Tuesday, Oct. 03, 2023|
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UNITED NATIONS — The West’s steady criticism of Hungary on democratic and cultural issues makes the small European country’s right-wing government reluctant to offer support on practical matters, specifically NATO’s buildup against Russia, Hungary’s foreign minister said.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó also said Friday that his country has not voted on whether to allow Finland and Sweden to join NATO because Hungarian lawmakers are sick of those countries’ critiques of Hungarian domestic affairs.
Lawmakers from the governing party plan to vote Monday in favor of the Finnish request but “serious concerns were raised” about Finland and Sweden in recent months “mostly because of the very disrespectful behavior of the political elites of both countries towards Hungary,” Szijjártó said.
“You know, when Finnish and Swedish politicians question the democratic nature of our political system, that’s really unacceptable,” he said.
The timing of a vote on Sweden is harder to predict, Szijjártó said.
The EU, which includes 21 NATO countries, has frozen billions in funds to Budapest and accused populist Prime Minister Viktor Orban of cracking down on media freedom and LGBTQ rights. Orban’s administration has also been accused of tolerating an entrenched culture of corruption and co-opting state institutions to serve the governing Fidesz party. In a European Parliament resolution, EU lawmakers declared last year that Hungary had become “a hybrid regime of electoral autocracy” under Orban’s nationalist government and that its undermining of the bloc’s democratic values had taken Hungary out of the community of democracies.
That criticism raised objections within Hungary and made it hard for the government to support Finland and Sweden’s bids to join NATO, Szijjártó said.
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