FILE – Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban briefs the press in Berlin, February 10, 2020. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber, File)

BUDAPEST (AP) — Hungary has again postponed a vote on Sweden and Finland’s NATO candidacies, according to an agenda posted Thursday on the National Assembly’s website, in the latest of a series of postponements that infuriated Western allies.

The postponement of the vote to the parliamentary session on March 20 means that only Hungary and Turkey, among the NATO members, did not approve the entry of the two Nordic countries into the Western military alliance.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said he was personally in favor of membership, but alleges governments in Stockholm and Helsinki have ‘spread blatant lies’ about Hungary, raising doubts among his party’s lawmakers about approval.

In a radio interview on February 24, Orban confirmed that Hungary would send a parliamentary delegation to Sweden and Finland to ask for “clarifications” ahead of the ratification vote in the Assembly.

“It is not fair that they are asking us to take them into account when they are spreading blatant lies about Hungary, about the rule of law in Hungary, about democracy and life here,” Orban said. . “(How) can someone want to be our ally in a military system and blatantly spread lies about Hungary? So let’s wait to have a friendly chat and ask them how it’s possible.”

Successive delays since July 2022 have angered some members of the European Union, as well as opposition politicians in Hungary.

Speaking in parliament on Wednesday, Agnes Vadai, a liberal MP and former defense ministry official, criticized the ruling Fidesz party, accusing it of deliberately delaying the vote.

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