Hungary to develop new NATO concept, says Viktor Orbán

Viktor Orbán
Viktor Orbán

Hungary is working to "redefine" its NATO membership status to potentially opt out of NATO's deepening support for Ukraine, said Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, Bloomberg reported on May 24.

"Our lawyers and officers are working hard to see how Hungary can maintain its NATO membership in a way that it wouldn’t have to take part in NATO actions outside of NATO territory," Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said.

The government in Budapest is already an important contributor to NATO's two missions outside its territory — in Iraq and Kosovo. NATO members can opt out of any military missions, although broad participation is always encouraged, Bloomberg reported.

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Orbán stated that Hungary is committed to NATO’s mission to defend members should one come under attack. However, he expressed concern that financing and weapons supplies for Ukraine could eventually lead to greater military involvement, potentially even sending troops.

Hungary fundamentally disagrees with some NATO members' assessment that Russia would invade NATO’s eastern flank after Ukraine, describing the current war as one between "two Slavic countries."

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This view is not shared within NATO, which has set up working groups to explore the alliance’s potentially expanded role in the war. Orbán noted that support for Kyiv’s forces under the new NATO mission would take place outside Ukraine.

As a NATO member, Hungary participates in these discussions but effectively as a "non-participating member" opposing the sending of money and weapons to Ukraine. Orbán said giving Hungary a formal opt-out would amount to a new concept of NATO membership.

"It’s a situation where we’re sort of there and not there," Orbán said. "I don’t know how long this can be maintained."

Hungary’s stance on Russia’s invading Ukraine

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán is known for his pro-Russian and anti-Ukrainian statements.

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He has called Ukraine an "unsovereign state," claimed the EU lacks funds to support Ukraine, and defended Russian dictator Vladimir Putin while calling for negotiations with Russia.

Hungary won't block the European Union's latest round of sanctions against Russia, Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said in a Facebook statement on Feb. 19.

Orbán claimed that "pro-war sentiment and the logic of war" are prevailing in Europe.

On April 19, Orbán expressed concern that some European countries are getting increasingly involved in the war in Ukraine, saying they are “one step away” from sending troops. He added with a hint of displeasure that “European countries consider Russia's aggression against Ukraine as their own war.”

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Read the original article on The New Voice of Ukraine