US Senators Urge Sweden's NATO Accession in Budapest

On Sunday, three US senators urged, at their country's embassy in Budapest, the ratification of Sweden's NATO accession bid as soon as possible. However, they emphasized that they had trust in Prime Minister Orban's pledge, reaffirmed on Saturday, that this would take place on February 26.

2024. 02. 19. 12:27
20240218 Budapest Senator Jeanne Shaheen, co-chair of the Senate NATO Observer Group, member of the Committee on Foreign Relations and Committee on Appropriations; Senator Thom Tillis, co-chair of the Senate NATO Observer Group; Senator Chris Murphy, member of the Committee on Foreign Relations and Committee on Appropriations; Amerikai Nagykövetség sajtótájékoztató Fotó: Mirkó István Magyar Nemzet Fotó: Mirkó István
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– There is no reason for the delay. Sweden's NATO accession directly affects the national security of the United States and Hungary, three US Senators told a press briefing held at the US Embassy in Budapest on Sunday. As guests of Ambassador David Pressman, the two co-chairs of the US Senate's NATO Observer Group and the member of the Foreign Relations Committee 

urged the Hungarian parliament to ratify Sweden's NATO membership as soon as possible. This move only awaits Hungary's approval in the Atlantic alliance. 


The US Senators were led by David Pressman, the US Ambassador in Budapest. Photo: Istvan Mirko


Parliament may act in a week 

In the end, the Senators struck a more conciliatory tone than expected, in which PM Orban's state of the nation address, delivered on Saturday, could have played a part. Mr Orban said it was 

good news that our dispute with Sweden is nearing a conclusion. We are progressing towards the ratification of Sweden's NATO accession on the first day of the spring session.

The spring session starts on Monday, February 26. 

Among the senators who came to Budapest, Jeanne Shaheen and Chris Murphy are Democrats and Thom Tillis is a Republican. A fourth Senator, Democrat Chris Van Hollen, who was also expected, did not show up. It emerged on Sunday that the delegation had not flown in from Washington, but from the Munich Security Conference. 

The US senators flew in from Munich to Budapest. Photo: Istvan Mirko

Ms Shaheen told journalists that they had been briefed about Saturday's speech by PM Orban, and she expressed optimism that the ratification would take place in time. The Senators said they had trust in PM Orban's words. When asked, they did not confirm that they were preparing a plan B, for example to call for sanctions against Hungary, should it fail to approve Sweden's bid. 

We came as friends and are simply waiting for Hungary to fulfill its pledge,

– Mr Murphy said. When asked, the delegation declined to comment on talks between Hungary and Sweden regarding the defense industry.

As we highlighted on Friday, 

the size of a delegation of this level is, in itself, highly demonstrative in diplomatic practice.   


Photo: Istvan Mirko 

The senators expressed regret that they had not been received by anyone from the government, even conveying some puzzlement. On Friday, In response to a question from Magyar Nemzet, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto emphasized that 

Hungary was a sovereign country, and we believe that no sovereign country should be putting pressure on another, especially when it comes to allies.

According to the Hungarian government, the Senators - as members of a legislative delegation - have their negotiating partners in Hungary's National Assembly.   

There are disputes in a family, but Hungary is part of the NATO family,

– Mr Tillis said, in response to a question from The New York Times, confirming that Hungary is not a weak link in the Atlantic alliance. 

Despite the relatively conciliatory tone, certain disagreements have also surfaced, with the Senators expressing concern about democratic backsliding in Hungary. However, they did not go into any detail apart from the usual references to independent media and similar allegations. Although we would have liked to ask the Senators on this issue, we did not get a chance. 

Photo: Istvan Mirko 

The Senators underscored their belief that NATO's strength lies in its composition of stable democracies. In line with this perspective, the US Congress may put forth a new resolution. Another key distinction is their conviction that providing support to Ukraine is crucial for expeditiously concluding the Russia-Ukraine war. They also perceive Russian President Putin as a threat to NATO as a whole.


Cover photo: US Senators Jeanne Shaheen, Thom Tillis and Chris Murphy and US Ambassador to Hungary David Pressman hold a press conference in Budapest (Photo: Istvan Mirko)

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