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Hungarian parliament postpones vote on Sweden's NATO membership bid

The file photo shows the Hungarian parliament.

A Hungarian parliament committee has postponed a vote on Sweden’s bid to join the NATO military alliance, guaranteeing that the Nordic nation will not join the US-led bloc before or during its summit in July.

After a closed committee session on Wednesday, Hungarian legislators of the ruling Fidesz and Christian Democrat parties on the agenda-setting panel did not support voting on Sweden’s NATO bid in next week's plenary session of parliament.

"The House committee has rejected putting the vote on the agenda for next week," Agnes Vadai, a lawmaker of the opposition Democratic Coalition party, told Reuters on Thursday, adding that her party would again propose a vote on Monday at a full session of parliament.

All 30 NATO members must unanimously agree for historically neutral Sweden to join the military alliance in the wake of the Ukraine conflict that resulted from a persisting push by NATO to expand eastward.

The Nordic nation, which has already dropped a longtime policy of military non-alignment following Russia's war in Ukraine, now desperately needs consent from both Hungary and Turkey to join NATO, to which its neighbor, Finland, was finally added in April.

Stockholm has set its sights on formal accession of Sweden at NATO's July 11-12 summit in Lithuania, but, while it has strong support from other members, including the United States, both Turkey and Hungary have so far prevented ratification.

Turkey, a member of NATO since 1952, has blamed Sweden for providing sanctuary to elements linked to the so-called Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), as well as the Gulen movement, which Ankara accuses of involvement in a 2016 coup attempt.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says he cannot endorse the bid of Sweden to join the NATO military alliance as long as the Nordic country continues to lend support to terrorist groups acting against his country.

Both groups are considered “terrorist” groups by Turkey. The PKK is also on the “terrorist” lists of the US, the EU as well as other countries in the region.

Vadai further said it was "obvious" Fidesz would decide when to schedule the vote depending on Turkey's stance.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban "moves in tandem with Erdogan...ignoring Hungarian sovereignty and... breaking the unity of NATO," she added, noting, "As it stands today, there won't be a ratification before the NATO summit."

Sweden's Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said that he aimed to speak with Orban later on Thursday after media reported that Hungary's parliament would delay ratification of Sweden's NATO bid.

The ratification process has been stranded in the Hungarian parliament since last July.

Orban has particularly accused both Stockholm and Helsinki of spreading "outright lies" about the health of democracy and the rule of law in his country, although Hungarian legislators approved Finland's bid in late March.

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