If you want to join NATO, come and talk to me — that’s Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s latest message to his Swedish counterpart.
“Today I sent an invitation letter to Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson … for a visit to Hungary to negotiate on Sweden’s NATO accession,” Orbán tweeted today.
Orbán’s remarks come amid growing signs that Sweden is possibly making inroads persuading the alliance’s last two holdouts — Hungary and Turkey — 20 months after it submitted a bid to join NATO and breaking its centuries-old tradition of neutrality thanks to Russia’s war against Ukraine.
Kristersson’s office did not immediately respond to Orbán’s invitation.
On Monday, Turkey signaled it’s also ready to approve Stockholm’s membership. A senior official confirmed that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s AK Party, which commands a majority in the parliament together with its nationalist ally, will seek the legislature’s approval to ratify Sweden’s bid, Bloomberg reported.
Turkey’s move puts pressure on Hungary, which has repeatedly assured Swedish officials that it won’t be the last in the alliance to approve Sweden’s bid.
Hungary has been complaining about Sweden’s criticism of the state of its democracy. Turkey, which has demanded tougher action by Sweden against dissidents of Erdogan’s government, has also been asking Washington to approve a sale of F-16 fighter jets.