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Green light also from Hungary

After a long blockade, Hungary's parliament has approved Sweden's accession to NATO – so nothing stands in the way of the Scandinavians being accepted into the defense alliance. People there are relieved about the vote from Budapest.

Almost two years ago – in May 2022 – Sweden applied for membership in NATO under the impression of Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine – now the time has come. As the last member state of the defense alliance, the Hungarian parliament approved Sweden's application for membership with an overwhelming majority.

This was preceded by tough negotiations with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban. The right-wing populist had blocked Sweden's accession to NATO until the very end, probably because Stockholm had repeatedly criticized his policies. It was only last Friday – after a personal visit from Sweden's Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson and an agreement to purchase and maintain Swedish JAS 39 Gripen fighter jets – that Orban and his ruling Fidesz party gave up their resistance.

Today, on the day of the vote, much friendlier tones came from Orban: “Sweden's accession to NATO will strengthen Hungary's security,” the Prime Minister appealed for the votes of the MPs. They complied with the request: 188 MPs voted for ratification, six voted against, and there were no abstentions.

“Historic day”

Sweden's Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson spoke of a “historic day” after the vote. “The parliaments of all NATO member states have now voted for Sweden to join NATO,” he said on the online service X, formerly Twitter. “Sweden is ready to assume its responsibility for Euro-Atlantic security.”

The “yes” from Budapest was also received with some relief among the NATO states: “The path for Sweden into NATO is clear – that's a win for all of us,” wrote Chancellor Olaf Scholz also on X. “The decision strengthens our defense alliance and thus the security of Europe and the world.” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg made a similar statement.

Worried about Russian Expansion policy

After the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Sweden and Finland applied for membership in NATO. Finland was accepted into the alliance as the 31st member in April 2023, while Sweden struggled for many months longer to avoid ratifications by NATO members Turkey and Hungary. Turkey gave up its blockade in January and Hungary has delayed its approval until now.

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