Sweden’s NATO application is approved by Hungary’s parliament, removing the last barrier to membership.


Hungary’s BUDAPEST (AP) — The ratification of Sweden’s NATO bid by the Hungarian parliament came to an end on Monday, after over 18 months of delays that hindered the alliance’s efforts to grow in reaction to Russia’s aggression in Ukraine.

The culmination of months of haggling by Hungary’s allies to persuade its nationalist government to lift its hold on Sweden’s membership, the vote passed with 188 votes in favor and 6 against. The procedures for Sweden’s admission into NATO were presented by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s administration in July 2022, but the issue was delayed in parliament due to opposition from members of the ruling party.Hungary’s move opened the door for NATO to expand again in less than a year after Sweden and Finland submitted applications to join in May 2022 in response to Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, which was ostensibly meant to stop NATO from growing further.

“We have to treat this seriously because it’s a huge step. But we are also proceeding in a really natural manner. Joining NATO signifies that we have found a new home among many countries that cooperate for freedom and peace, he said during a news conference in Stockholm.

Right-wing populist Orbán, who has developed strong links with Russia, claimed that Swedish politicians’ criticism of Hungary’s democracy damaged relations between the two nations and made his Fidesz party’s lawmakers reluctant.

However, Orbán told legislators prior to the vote that “Hungary’s security is strengthened by Sweden’s NATO membership and the military cooperation between Sweden and Hungary.”The vote, according to NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, “makes NATO stronger, Sweden safer, and all of us more secure,” as reported by The Associated Press.

According to Stoltenberg, NATO targets that Sweden devote at least 2% of its gross domestic product on defense. Sweden also has a strong defense sector and competent armed forces.

According to Russian President Vladimir Putin, the vote “also demonstrates that NATO’s door is open” and that he “did not succeed in his attempt to close NATO’s door.”

Hungary is the last of the alliance’s 31 members to support the request, as Turkey endorsed it last month. NATO members must vote unanimously to add new nations.

The prime minister of Sweden, Ulf Kristersson, declared that his nation was “now leaving 200 years of nonalignment and neutrality behind us.”

He stated, “Orban could play, do some pirouettes, by hiding behind Erdogan’s back.” Then, when Erdogan changed course, Orban was ill-prepared to modify his stance and needed evidence to support his turnabout. And the Gripen agreement ended up being that.

The Hungarian parliament’s legislators have a full agenda, with Monday’s vote being just one item on it. There was also a vote on accepting President Katalin Novák’s resignation. Novák resigned earlier this month amid controversy surrounding her choice to pardon a man found guilty of covering up a number of sexual assaults against children.Legislators recognized Tamás Sulyok, the head of Hungary’s Constitutional Court, as the nation’s new leader after accepting Novák’s resignation. On March 5, he is scheduled to formally assume office.
Contributors to this article included Associated Press writers David Keyton in Stockholm, Sweden; Jan M. Olsen in Copenhagen, Denmark; and Darlene Superville in Washington, D.C.

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