Hungary foreign minister says he was in touch with Turkey on Sweden’s NATO bid

By Boldizsar Gyori

BUDAPEST (Reuters) – Hungary’s foreign minister said on Tuesday that he had been in touch with his Turkish counterpart about a ratification of Sweden’s NATO membership and if there is a shift in Turkey’s stance Hungary will not delay the process.

Sweden, dropping a longtime policy of military non-alignment following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, has set its sights on formal accession at NATO’s July 11-12 summit but, while it has strong support from other members including the United States, both Turkey and Hungary have so far blocked ratification.

“If there is a shift (in Turkey’s stance), then of course we will keep the promise that Hungary will not hold up any country in terms of (NATO) membership,” Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto told a news conference in Budapest, broadcast on his Facebook page.

Earlier on Tuesday Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan voiced his country’s reluctance to let Sweden into NATO and called on Sweden to fulfill its commitments under a deal it struck last year in Madrid aimed at addressing Ankara’s security concerns.

A series of demonstrations in Sweden against Islam and for Kurdish rights have offended Ankara, whose backing Sweden needs to gain entry to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

Although Sweden’s prime minister said on Friday Prime Minister Viktor Orban had assured him that Budapest would not delay the Nordic country’s NATO accession, Hungary’s parliament has not put the ratification on its agenda this week before the summer break.

Parliament will hold its last meeting on Friday. The ratification process has been stranded in parliament since last July.

(Reporting by Krisztina Than and Boldizsar Gyori, Editing by William Maclean)