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Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said his country will ratify NATO membership for Sweden and Finland at the start of the next parliamentary session – in January 2023.

The pledge came at a meeting of prime ministers from the Visegrad 4 countries – Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary – in the Slovak city of Košice.

“About NATO, I can tell you that the government has already made a decision. We have already confirmed to both Finland and Sweden that Hungary supports these two countries’ membership in NATO, and at the first session next year the parliament will put this on the agenda,” said he added that the other three prime ministers had put pressure on the Hungarians to go ahead with the process.

“I would like to emphasize that the Swedes and Finns have not lost a single minute of membership because of Hungary, and Hungary will certainly give them the support they need to join. After the government, the parliament will also do so,” Orbán said .

Since the majority of Hungary’s opposition parties in parliament are in favor of Nato membership for the two Nordic nations – as Orbán’s government has a two-thirds majority – the measure is expected to pass quickly when it finally comes to the floor.

The V4 meeting was held as flaws emerged in the regional bloc over Hungary’s stance on the war in Ukraine, which its partners have perceived as too conciliatory towards Russia.

Hungary’s delay in holding the NATO vote has also caused speculation that Budapest is using the issue to exert influence on the EU, which has frozen billions in financial aid to Hungary over concerns that Orban has overseen a systematic erosion of democratic standards and allowed widespread misuse of EU funds.

But while acknowledging significant differences over how to help Ukraine and punish Russia for its invasion, the Visegrad 4 leaders said shared interests such as ensuring energy security, stopping illegal immigration and strengthening border security provide a basis for continued V4 cooperation in the future.

Viktor Orbán promises that Hungary will ratify NATO membership for Finland and Sweden in January

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