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Sweden PM To Visit 23 Feb Ahead Of NATO Ratification-MTI


Hungarian state media outlet MTI reporting that Swedish PM Ulf Kristersson is set to visit Hungary on Friday 23 February as the country's parliament prepares to ratify Sweden's NATO accession bid (see 0928GMT bullet). The visit is likely to be viewed as an opportunity for Hungarian PM Viktor Orban to save face, having seemingly retreated on a number of major foreign policy issues in recent months.

  • Firstly, at the Dec 2023 EUCO summit he agreed not to obstruct Ukraine's EU accession bid, in spite of having talked down Ukrainian membership in the past.
  • Then, at the special EUCO summit on 1 Feb he agreed give up his veto on EUR50bn in long-term EU financial support for Ukraine.
  • Finally, he and his populist Fidesz party now appear to have abandoned efforts to hold up Sweden's NATO accession.
  • The apparent climbdowns come as Orban faces one of the most sizeable challenges to his domestic standing since taking office in 2010.
  • Theresignation of close politial alliesKatalin Novak as president and former Justice Minister Judit Varga as lead candidate for Fidesz in the European parliament elections due to scandal, and the very public outburst from Varga's ex-husband Peter Magyar, risks Orban's carefully-constructed image as a defender of family values.
  • While unlikely to result in anything as extreme as Orban's ouster, should the fallout from the resignations and Magyar's viral video prove sustained it could limit Orban's actions on the international stage as he douses political fires at home.

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