US lawmakers urge Hungarian leader Viktor Orban to immediately approve Sweden’s NATO membership


BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — A bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers is urging Hungary to immediately ratify Sweden’s application to join NATOIt said patience with the Central European country is “wearing thin” as it delays its approval for the Nordic nation.

Hungary is the only country in the military alliance of 31 countries has not yet supported Sweden’s membership bidAnd frustrations within NATO have grown as Budapest has repeatedly postponed a vote on ratification for more than a year.

In a joint statement issued Thursday, US Senators Jeanne Shaheen, a New Hampshire Democrat, and Thom Tillis, a North Carolina Republican, met with the Hungarian prime minister. viktor orban “Proceed without delay the protocol of Sweden’s accession to NATO” and said that continuing the process would harm Budapest’s relations with its allies.

“Despite its many prior public commitments, Hungary is the last remaining NATO member that has not ratified Sweden’s bid and both time and patience are running thin. “Hungary’s inaction risks irreversibly damaging its relations with the United States and NATO,” the senators wrote.

Orban, a hardline nationalist who has led Hungary since 2010, has long promised that his country would not be the last NATO member to approve Sweden’s application. But as Turkey’s parliament voted to support Stockholm’s bid in January, attention turned to Budapest as NATO members seek to expand the alliance between Russia and Russia. Full scale invasion of Ukraine,

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Voting on Sweden’s NATO accession protocol has not yet appeared on the Hungarian parliament’s agenda, and the matter is unlikely to go before lawmakers at least until the end of February when parliament reconvenes.

In a separate statement, U.S. Senator Ben Cardin, a Maryland Democrat and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, raised the possibility of imposing sanctions on Hungary for its conduct, calling Orbán “the least trusted member of NATO.”

Cardin said the Biden administration should investigate whether Hungary should continue to participate in the U.S. visa waiver program, which allows passport holders from 41 countries to enter the United States for business or tourism without a visa for up to 90 days. Allows to do.

He also said that “given the level of corruption” in Hungary, the US should investigate imposing sanctions against Hungarians under the Global Magnitsky Act, a program that allows Washington to impose sanctions on foreign individuals for human rights and corruption violations. allows for.

Cardin said he was “grateful” that the EU approved 50 billion euros ($54 billion) on Thursday. aid package to ukraineBut noted that it did so only by overcoming Orbán’s veto, which threatened to derail the funding.

Orbán had opposed funding the aid through the EU’s common budget, but ultimately agreed to the measure under pressure from other leaders of the 27-nation bloc.

Speaking in an interview with state radio on Friday, Orbán was seen by his critics as Kremlin’s closest EU allyRaised doubts about Ukraine’s ability to repel a Russian invasion.

“Westerners still think that time is on our side, that the longer the war lasts, the more Ukraine’s military situation will improve. I think the opposite is true,” he said. “I think time is on the side of the Russians, and the longer the war lasts, the more people will die, and the balance of power will not change in favor of Ukraine. Then why should we continue the war?”

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