U.S. Senators Trust Hungarian Lawmakers Will Ratify Sweden NATO Accession Soon

Int’l Relations

U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D) speaks, flanked by Republican Senator Thom Tillis (left) and Democratic Senator Chris Murphy (right) during a press conference at the U.S. Embassy in Budapest, Hungary in February 18.

Photo by MTI/Szilárd Koszticsák

United States Senator Jeanne Shaheen said a bipartisan delegation of her peers trusted that Hungarian lawmakers would soon ratify Sweden's NATO accession bid, speaking at a press conference in Budapest on Sunday, but expressed disappointment that nobody from the Hungarian government had met with them.

The delegation, on a mission focused on strategic issues confronting NATO and Hungary, included Senator Shaheen, a Democrat, and Senator Thom Tillis, a Republican, who both co-chair the Senate NATO Observer Group, as well as Senator Chris Murphy, a Democrat and member of the Committee on Foreign Relations.

Shaheen noted at the press conference that Hungary was the last NATO member whose parliament had still not ratified Sweden's accession to the alliance, adding that Prime Minister Viktor Orbán had earlier said it wouldn't be the last one to do so.

Shaheen said she trusted Orbán would honor a pledge made in his state of the nation address on Saturday that Hungarian lawmakers would ratify Sweden's NATO accession at the start of parliament's spring session.

The senators stressed that Sweden's accession to NATO would strengthen the alliance and the security of the United States and Hungary in the current situation.

Shaheen stressed the importance of NATO being the strongest and most unified alliance possible considering the challenges facing Europe in the context of the war in Ukraine.

Senator Tillis said Russia's invasion of Ukraine was a threat to democracy, against Hungary, and against Europe, which was why NATO needed to be enlarged.

Senator Murphy said there was no reason for the Hungarian parliament to further delay the ratification of Sweden's NATO accession.

Fielding questions, Tillis said the U.S. respected Hungary's independence and sovereignty, but added that the country needed to support Sweden's NATO accession, just like the other members of the NATO family.

Asked to comment on remarks by Péter Szijjártó, the foreign minister, suggesting Russia was not a threat to NATO members, Shaheen said she didn't agree at all.

The senators had wanted to review with representatives of the Hungarian government bilateral economic ties, the situation of human rights, and matters related to the upcoming presidential election in the U.S.

Shaheen noted that the U.S. was the second-biggest foreign investor in Hungary.

She said a declaration assessing the situation of Sweden's NATO accession would be submitted with her co-chair of the Senate NATO Observer Group upon their return to the United States.

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