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Budapest, March 28 – The Hungarian Parliament has approved legislation allowing Finland to join the NATO.
A total of 182 MPs voted in favour and six against, while 11 lawmakers were absent, reports Xinhua news agency.
Besides the far-right party Mi Hazank (Our Homeland), all parties voted in favour of Finland’s accession.
Elod Novak, vice president of Mi Hazank, had said last week that his party would veto Finland’s accession because “expanding the military alliance on Russia’s border would be a provocation, while the neutral zone is an international interest”.
The Hungarian Parliament originally tabled to vote on the ratification of the accession of Finland and Sweden to NATO in late 2022, but had since decided to hold two separate votes.
Before Monday’s vote, it had sent a delegation on a “courtesy visit” to Finland and Sweden, to inquire as to why Helsinki and Stockholm had criticised Hungary’s democratic institutions.
“We were forced to hold consultations with the speaker, foreign minister, and parliament members of the two countries about whether they see Hungary as an ally, because the political statements in recent years were unduly hostile and did not reflect the reality in Hungary,”Parliament speaker Laszlo Kover had said after the visit.
The governments of Finland and Sweden had criticised the Hungarian government on issues related to corruption, media freedom and the judicial system.
Balazs Orban, the Prime Minister’s political director, told public radio on Sunday: “Hungary has managed to get reassurance from the Finns that these problems will not persist in the future.”
Finland and Sweden dropped their decades-long policies of military non-alignment and applied to join NATO last May.
Before Monday’s vote, Hungary and Turkey were the last two of NATO’s 30 members holding out on ratifying the accession of Sweden and Finland.
Turkey has not yet ratified either of the Nordic nations’ accession to NATO.