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Biden snubs two NATO allies for ‘democracy’ summit – media – Reuters

Turkey and Hungary have yet to approve Sweden and Finland’s bids to join the US-led military bloc

US President Joe Biden’s administration has excluded NATO allies Turkey and Hungary from the list of invitees to next week’s Democracy Summit, Foreign Policy magazine reported on Thursday, citing three US officials aware of the decision.

The two countries were also snubbed during the inaugural rendition of the summit last year, an event which, despite only taking place twice, Biden has hailed as one of his major achievements in of foreign policy.

A State Department official confirmed that all attendees of the 2021 summit received an invite to this year’s event, along with a few additions. However, he said, the Biden administration was “not interested in this event being taken as an overall judgment on the strength of another country’s democracy.”

Rob Berschinksi, senior director for human rights and democracy at the National Security Council, told al-Monitor that while Türkiye was “an important NATO ally of the United States and an incredibly important partner”, Washington had “been pretty clear in terms of [its] assessment of the state of democracy and human rights in the country”, namely that it was in decline.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s announcement last week that the country would start ratifying Finland’s NATO membership, but not Sweden’s, likely contributed to the decision to drop it from the list a second time. Although Erdogan did not rule out Sweden’s admission to the military alliance, he pointed to Stockholm’s refusal to hand over more than 210 suspected terrorists to Turkish custody as a decisive factor.

Hungary, which Biden memorably denounced as “totalitarian” in 2020, fell out of favor among NATO allies for its refusal to back the toughest sanctions the EU has tried to roll out against Russia’s oil and gas industry. With about 80% of its natural gas coming from Russia, Budapest has repeatedly stressed that an embargo would hurt Hungary and other European countries far more than it would punish Moscow for the conflict in Ukraine.

Earlier this week, the Hungarian prime minister’s office repeated calls for a ceasefire in Ukraine and condemned the UK’s decision to send depleted uranium munitions to Kiev. The country’s opposition to Ukraine’s entry into the EU will only change if “fundamental human rights standards are respected” regarding the use of EU languages ​​in Ukraine, Gergely Gulyas, head of the Prime Minister’s Office, told reporters on Thursday, although Hungary expressed support for Finland and Sweden joining the NATO.

The Democracy Summit will be held March 28-30 in Washington, as well as in partner countries Costa Rica, South Korea and Zambia.

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