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Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Hungary’s Parliament Approves Sweden’s NATO Application, Removing the Last Hurdle for Membership


From the heart of BUDAPEST, Hungary — A significant development unfolded in Hungary’s parliament on Monday as they cast their votes in favor of Sweden’s long-awaited entry into NATO. This move effectively concludes a period of over 18 months of postponements that have been a source of frustration for the alliance, particularly in light of Russia’s ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

The decision, which saw 188 votes in favor and a mere six against, represents the climax of several months of intense negotiations. Hungary’s allies have been working tirelessly to persuade its nationalist government to remove its veto on Sweden’s NATO membership. The protocols for Sweden’s NATO entry were submitted by the Hungarian government, led by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, in July 2022. However, the process had been held up in parliament due to opposition from lawmakers of the ruling party.

For a new country to be admitted into NATO, unanimous support from all members is mandatory. Hungary was the last of the 31-member alliance to give its approval, following Turkey’s ratification of the request last month.

Sweden’s Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson hailed the day as “historic”.

“We are prepared to take on our part of the responsibility for NATO’s security,” Kristersson posted on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.

Orbán, a right-wing populist with strong ties to Russia, has previously stated that criticisms of Hungary’s democracy by Swedish politicians had strained the relationship between the two nations. This, in turn, led to reluctance among lawmakers in his Fidesz party.

However, Monday’s vote effectively removed the final obstacle for Sweden’s membership. Sweden, along with its neighbor Finland, had initially applied to join the alliance in May 2022, just a few months after Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine began.

Before the vote, Orbán addressed the lawmakers, stating: “Sweden and Hungary’s military cooperation and Sweden’s NATO accession strengthen Hungary’s security.”

Orbán also expressed his disapproval of the increased pressure his government has faced from its European Union and NATO allies to expedite Sweden’s entry into the alliance.

“Several people tried to intervene from the outside in the settling of our disputes (with Sweden), but this did not help but rather hampered the issue,” Orbán said. “Hungary is a sovereign country, it does not tolerate being dictated by others, whether it be the content of its decisions or their timing.”

Last weekend, a bipartisan group of U.S. senators visited Hungary and announced it would submit a joint resolution to Congress condemning Hungary’s alleged democratic backsliding and urging Orbán’s government to immediately lift its block on Sweden’s trans-Atlantic integration.

However, on Friday, Sweden’s prime minister, Ulf Kristersson, met with Orbán in Hungary’s capital. The leaders appeared to reach a decisive reconciliation after months of diplomatic tensions.

Following their meeting, the leaders announced the conclusion of a defense industry agreement that will include Hungary’s purchase of four Swedish-made JAS 39 Gripen jets and the extension of a service contract for its existing Gripen fleet.

Orbán stated that the additional fighter jets “will significantly increase our military capabilities and further strengthen our role abroad” and will enhance Hungary’s ability to participate in joint NATO operations.

“To be a member of NATO together with another country means we are ready to die for each other,” Orbán said. “A deal on defense and military capacities helps to reconstruct the trust between the two countries.”

The final step in the process is a presidential signature to formally endorse the approval of Sweden’s NATO bid, which is expected to be obtained in the coming days.

Truth Media Network
Truth Media Network
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