Nauseda says 'not closing' issue of Sweden joining NATO ahead of Vilnius summit

  • 2023-06-29
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS – Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda says that he has not yet given up hope that Sweden will be admitted to NATO ahead of the Alliance's summit in Vilnius, despite Hungary's postponement of the ratification of the Nordic nation's membership until the autumn.

"I am not closing the Swedish issue for good," he told reporters ahead of the European Council's meeting in Brussels on Thursday. "As long as there are days left, hope is alive."

Nauseda added that he believed that Sweden's NATO membership was a matter of time.

Hungary's parliament on Wednesday put off a vote on Sweden's NATO accession until its autumn session, which most probably means that the Nordic nation will not join the Alliance ahead of its July 11-12 summit in Vilnius.

The postponement is the latest in a series of delays that have continued for a year now.

The reasons for the decision are not entirely clear, but it is suspected to be linked to Swedish politicians' criticism of Hungary over the state of democracy in the country. 

Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said on Thursday that Budapest should "clearly understand" the security implications of its decision.

In the wake of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Sweden and Finland abandoned their decades-long policy of military neutrality and applied to join the western alliance. 

Turkey and Hungary are the only NATO members that have not yet ratified Sweden's accession. 

Finland joined NATO in April.