Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó on Thursday accused Stockholm of making “unfair and unjust” remarks on the state of democracy in Hungary, which he said were in “contradiction” to Sweden’s bid to join the NATO military alliance, which Budapest hasn’t yet ratified.
“You urge our parliamentarians to ratify your accession to NATO, while you continue to accuse them as if they had destructed [sic] democracy in Hungary,” Szijjártó wrote in a letter to his Swedish counterpart Tobias Billström posted on X (formerly Twitter).
“This contradiction became now even stronger and definitely does not help your continuously raised demand to be fulfilled,” the minister warned about Stockholm’s NATO aspirations.
Hungary, which was one of the last countries to sign off on Finland’s accession to NATO, has dragged its feet on approving Sweden’s candidacy to join the military bloc for months because it says Stockholm has criticized the country’s democratic credentials.
After Turkey agreed to back Sweden’s bid at a summit in Vilnius in July, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said he’d received assurances from Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán his country would not keep opposing Stockholm’s membership.
Three days after the Vilnius summit, Fidesz lawmaker and head of the Hungarian National Assembly’s Foreign Affairs Committee Zsolt Németh cautiously signaled that parliament could be ready to “take up work” on Sweden’s accession “in mid-September.”
Hungary has been called out by the European Union over the decline of democracy in the country for years.
Last September, a report from the European Parliament said it had become an “electoral autocracy” while the European Commission has been engulfed in a battle with the nationalist Fidesz party for years over the alleged misuse of public funds to enrich figures close to the ruling party.