Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban votes along with lawmakers next to deputy premier Zsolt Semjen, on Finland's bid to join NATO, at the parliament in Budapest, Hungary, March 27, 2023. (PHOTO / AP)
BUDAPEST – The Hungarian parliament on Monday approved legislation allowing Finland to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
One hundred and eighty-two members of parliament voted in favor and six against, while eleven lawmakers were absent. Besides the far-right party Mi Hazank (Our Homeland), all parties voted in favor of Finland's accession.
Elod Novak, vice-president of Mi Hazank, said last Friday 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."
ALSO READ: Finland's president signs national NATO legislation
The Hungarian parliament originally tabled to vote on the ratification of the accession of Finland and Sweden to NATO in the last trimester of 2022, but had since decided to hold two separate votes.
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"
Before Monday's vote, the Hungarian parliament sent a delegation on a "courtesy visit" to Finland and Sweden, to inquire as to why Helsinki and Stockholm had criticized 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," Hungarian parliament speaker Laszlo Kover said last week after the visit.
READ MORE: 'Finland now more likely to join NATO before Sweden'
The governments of Finland and Sweden had criticized 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.
ALSO READ: Türkiye endorses Finland's NATO bid, but Sweden 'must wait'
Before Monday's vote, Hungary and Türkiye were the last two of NATO's 30 members holding out on ratifying the accession of Sweden and Finland. Türkiye has not yet ratified either of the Nordic nations' accession to NATO.