Hungary keeps antagonising stance against EU, NATO

European Union
Viktor Orbán tests EU and NATO's patience.

Hungary is entering into collision against both the European Union and NATO, with both organisations losing patience over Viktor Orbán’s policies and decisions and accuse him and his government of violating treaties and stalling decisions.

The European Commission sent a formal notice to Hungary over a new law aimed at national sovereignty protection that according to the Commission violates EU law. The law was approved in December and its scope is allegedly to protect the country against political interference from abroad. To face the issue, Hungary will set up a new separate authority to monitor possible risk and will have the power to punish foreign financing for parties and groups with up to three years in prison.

The Commission said Wednesday that the new law violates EU laws on democracy and equal rights, data protection law and other internal market regulations. A spokesperson for the Commission added that “the setup of a new authority with wide-ranging powers and a strict regime of monitoring, enforcement and sanctioning also risks to seriously harm the democracy.”

The formal notice is a preliminary step before an infringement procedure is opened against the country. Hungary has two months to reply on the issue to avoid escalating the issue.

On the same day, US national security adviser Jake Sullivan urged Hungary to stop stalling Sweden’s accession to NATO before patience in the US grows thin. The remark was in response to a boycott from Orbán’s lawmakers for a vote on the issue. Fidesz’ MPs didn’t show up for an emergency session of the Hungarian parliament to vote on the Swedish bid.

The Nordic country decided to join the military alliance after years of neutrality following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022. However, its bid encountered several hurdles first from Turkey and then from Hungary. Turkey has since agreed in Sweden’s favour.

Hungary contests reports and remarks made by Swedish politicians on the state of Hungarian democracy and Fidesz is insisting that Sweden’s prime minister Ulf Kristersson must visit the country before Hungary can approve its NATO bid. Orbán said that he wants to speak with Kristersson on “future cooperation in the field of security and defence as allies and partners.”

Sullivan was in Brussels to meet with NATO’s top security officials. He said that “we heard security adviser after security adviser say that it’s past time for Sweden to get in, and to directly address the representative from Hungary.” Sullivan doesn’t expect anything in particular from Hungary, hoping “that there is a constructive resolution to this issue in the very near term” but reiterated that “of course our patience on this can’t be unlimited either.”

The Hungarian parliament should meet again on the issue on February 26, unless a special session is called to examine Sweden’s bid.

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