Hungary supports NATO membership of Finland and Sweden: Kurdish question

Hungary supports NATO membership of Finland and SwedenKurdish question

Kanako Mita and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán of Hungary supports NATO membership for Finland and Sweden. Orbán announced this during a meeting of the Visegrad 4 group of countries (Czechia, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia)

The Visegrad 4 group differs significantly about the crisis between Ukraine and pro-Russian indigenous forces in the Donbass (Donbas) region backed by the armed forces of the Russian Federation. Hungary is more nuanced toward the Russian Federation – in the other direction, Poland openly supports Ukraine. 

However, Visegrad 4 nations must solve differences because they share common interests. This notably applies to furthering economic integration, preventing illegal immigration, securing energy supplies, and reinforcing border protection. 

Orbán declared, “On 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 the membership of these two countries in NATO, and at the first session of next year, Parliament will put this on the agenda.” 

Orbán continued, “I would like to underline that the Swedes and the 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, so will Parliament.”

Hungary Today reports, “According to observers, the Hungarian government is putting pressure on Europe on three fronts: it opposes a joint borrowing to support Ukraine (and wants to support its neighbor bilaterally), opposes the global minimum tax, and it is in no hurry to ratify the two Nordic countries’ NATO membership.”

Prime Minister Sanna Marin of Finland said in early November, “All eyes are now on Hungary and Turkey. We are waiting for these countries to ratify our applications. I think it would be important that this would happen preferably sooner than later.”

NATO’s main obstacle to the membership of Finland and Sweden is Turkey supporting both nations – along with the internal concern in Sweden related to Kurds and other humanitarian factors. Hence, human rights issues and the extradition of Kurds to Turkey might set off internal political convulsions in Sweden. 

Pierre Schori – a close confidant of the esteemed former Social Democrat Premier Olof Palme (assassinated in 1986)– weighed in. He said, “The agreement with Turkey is a slam foErdogan, a shame for Sweden – and a betrayal of Kurdish freedom fighters. It is a shock for many Social Democrats.”

Paul Levin, the director of the Institute for Turkish Studies at Stockholm University, said, “Sweden has been a thorn in Turkey’s side, criticizing Turkish human rights abuses, there is a strong and vibrant Kurdish diaspora in Sweden, parts of which is sympathetic to the PKK… All these things fly in the face of the Turkish perspective on these issues that the PKK and their affiliates are an essential national security threat to Turkey.”

In 2017, Modern Tokyo Times said, “Purges in Turkey against alleged supporters of the cleric Fethullah Gulen – to suppressing Kurdish politicians – and enormous intimidation against Kurdish associations that merely question the leadership of Erdogan – are never-ending. Indeed, while people conjure up images of mass political purges in nations like North Korea – to history in China under Mao Zedong – then no need to read history books or focus on Northeast Asia. Instead, just focus on the power concentration policies of NATO Turkey under Erdogan and his endless internal attacks against Kurds, Gulen supporters, socialists, or anyone who dares to challenge him openly.”

Märta Stenevi, the Green Party spokesperson, said, “We are going from a tradition of working for peacekeeping to a situation where we are bowing to an authoritarian regime that has such a long list of human rights violations on its conscience.” 

Hungary is likely to seek economic concessions from the upper echelons of the European Union. Hence, Turkey and internal issues in Sweden seem the likely stumbling blocks – especially given recent events.

However, recent political events in Sweden are a setback for the Kurds. Thus the newly elected Prime Minister of Sweden, Ulf Kristersson, is less likely to worry about human rights. 

After Kristersson met President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey – he said, “My government was elected just a few weeks ago on a mandate to put law and order first… And this includes countering terrorism and terrorist organizations like the PKK in Sweden.” 

He continued, “This is why I want to reassure all Turks: Sweden will live up to all the obligations made to Turkey in countering the terrorist threat before becoming a member of NATO and as a future ally.”

However, for Orbán, he seeks to preserve important energy supply routes, consolidate the Visegrad 4, maintain cordial relations with the Russian Federation, support the Hungarian diaspora, and seek favorable economic results from the European Union by supporting Finland and Sweden joining NATO.

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