A meeting between the parliamentary delegations of Hungary and Sweden could take place within a week or two with the aim of clarifying issues concerning the ratification of Sweden’s NATO accession and to discuss concerns linked to “unfounded lies about the situation of democracy in Hungary”, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjártó said on Monday. Szijjártó said after talks with Swedish counterpart Tobias Billström in Stockholm that the discussion focused on Sweden’s NATO accession and its ratification by Hungary. “I was able to tell my colleague that Hungary’s government submitted the proposal for ratification to parliament not by chance but because we support it,” he said. “The government’s support is based on a matter of principle, but the position of the Fidesz-Christian Democrat group, which holds a two-thirds majority in parliament, is much less clear,” he added.
Several lawmakers from these groups expressed doubt about the NATO accession of Sweden and, to a degree, that of Finland, he said. Some of these were connected to defence policy and professional issues that could be resolved by rational debate, but concerns of a political nature needed to be addressed on a political basis, he added. Szijjártó said it was reasonable that certain lawmakers raised the question: “How can a country expect a favour from us when its politicians continually and repeatedly spread lies about Hungary.” “How can they expect speedy and fair decisions when, during the recent period, all we were hearing is there’s no democracy in Hungary, the rule of law is not guaranteed in Hungary, there is no media freedom and the independence of justice is not guaranteed? These are obviously all lies and based on preconceptions that are untrue,” Szijjártó said. He said it was insulting to Hungarian lawmakers that accusations regarding the state of democracy also questioned the legitimacy of their election, Szijjártó said, adding that discussion were needed to clarify this issue. Szijjártó said that Billström had welcomed that “we can sincerely discuss such difficult and complex issues”, and he promised to help to advance discussions between the two parliaments can as soon as possible. The meeting also discussed the priorities of Sweden’s current European Union presidency, and the minister said it was important that the EU should support the competitiveness of the bloc in a similar way to the US.
He also said that Stockholm places equally strong emphasis as Budapest on the issue of national minorities and the systematic violation of the rights of ethnic Hungarians in Ukraine is unacceptable. “We expect Ukraine to restore all of the rights that the ethnic Hungarian communities had eight or nine years ago. We expect nothing in addition, but we demand this most resolutely,” he added.