A prominent Swedish economist has expressed a shocking opinion on Twitter about NATO and its two members, Turkey and Hungary. The harsh tone of the post is not entirely surprising, given that Sweden is keen to join the organization, but Hungary and Turkey have yet to approve it. However, given the attitude Swedish public figures often take toward the Hungarian government, it is not surprising that Hungarian politicians would like to discuss the issue at length before giving the green light to the country that scolds them to join NATO.
Finland’s application for the NATO membership was already accepted and ratified by the Hungarian government in March, but this step has not yet been taken for Sweden. One reason for this is that there have been a number of volatile statements by Swedish politicians and public figures toward Hungary and the Hungarian government.
The most recent example is the case of Swedish economist Anders Åslund, who wrote on Twitter that Hungary and Turkey should be kicked out of NATO and replaced by the “democratic” and “fully pro-Western” Ukraine, which he says has the strongest army in Europe.
At this point, it is worth noting that Hungary has moved up a level in the Global Firepower Index ranking this year, coming 54th. This ranking considers all military powers for the yearly defense review. Each country is evaluated on a multitude of factors related to a prolonged offensive or defensive military campaign. The compilation estimates the total number of Hungarian military personnel at 55,000, including reserves, active personnel, and paramilitary personnel.
Sweden is ranked 37th in this index, which, let us face it, is not light years ahead of Hungary, thus it is not entirely clear on what basis the economist is saying that Hungarian military capabilities are worthless.
The basis on which a non-NATO citizen says that two countries that have been members for decades should be excluded from the organization remains a mystery. In any case, statements such as these will not help Sweden to join NATO. This is exactly what Gergely Gulyás, the Minister heading the Prime Minister’s Office, referred to at the last Government Info meeting when he said that he did not want to speculate on the date of ratification by the Hungarian parliament of Sweden’s accession to NATO. He emphasized that trust between the two countries must be restored through dialogue, to which Hungary is open. At the same time, he added that Swedish opinions have been expressed recently, which justify the need for a minimum level of mutual trust.