Hungary’s parliament approves Sweden’s entry into NATO

(CNN) — Hungary’s parliament approved Sweden’s candidacy for NATO by an overwhelming majority on Monday, clearing the way for the Nordic nation to join the military alliance after nearly two years of intense negotiations and prompting Russian President Vladimir Putin to A geopolitical shock occurred. Press Office.

Gaining approval from Hungarian legislators was the final hurdle for Sweden’s entry into NATO. Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Christerson visited Budapest on Friday to discuss defense and security cooperation with his Hungarian counterpart Viktor Orban. The two sides reconciled and agreed to a deal under which Hungary would acquire four new Swedish-made Gripen fighter aircraft.

Of the 194 delegates voting, only six rejected Sweden’s accession.

“Today is a historic day,” Kristersen said on Twitter shortly after the vote. “Sweden is ready to assume its responsibility for Euro-Atlantic security.”

Sweden will formally join the alliance after submitting its instrument of accession to the United States government, depositary of the North Atlantic Treaty. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg confirmed that Sweden will join the alliance now that all allies have approved Sweden’s membership application.

“Sweden’s involvement will make us all stronger and safer,” he said.

With Sweden’s accession, NATO members will number 32 countries, an ironic twist given that Russia started its war against Ukraine due to the alliance’s growth in Eastern Europe along the Russian border.

Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Christerson and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at a press conference in Stockholm in October. (Credit: Jonas Ekströmer/TT/Reuters News Agency)

Last year, Finland became NATO’s 31st member, adding about 1,300 kilometers to the alliance’s border with Russia.

As NATO states, Finland and Sweden will enjoy the protection provided by Article 5 of the treaty that established the alliance, which states that an attack against one member is considered an attack against all.

Sweden and Finland announced their intention to join the alliance in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, abandoning the policy of non-alignment that had defined the two states’ foreign relations during the Cold War for decades.

NATO has an open-door policy, meaning that any country can be invited to join if it expresses interest and is able and willing to uphold the principles of the bloc’s founding treaty.

However, under the accession rules, any member state can veto the admission of a new country. Although most NATO members immediately approved Finland and Sweden’s requests, Hungary and Turkey resisted for some time.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Finland and Sweden of being too lenient towards Kurdish terrorist organizations, while Orbán said they were “blatant lies” about his country’s failure to follow European Union (EU) rules. “Were spreading it. The rule of law is enshrined in the EU treaties on fundamental values.

These concerns led the EU to freeze billions of dollars of funds earmarked for Hungary until they were resolved. Orbán and his government have repeatedly denied breaking EU rules.

Both Hungary and Turkey later softened their stance on Finland’s accession and approved its application last March. Turkey’s parliament approved Sweden’s entry last month after Stockholm pledged to tighten its anti-terrorism laws and cooperate more closely with Turkey on security.

Shortly after the vote in Turkey, Orbán told NATO chief Stoltenberg that his government would also support Sweden’s accession. The Hungarian leader said during his state of the nation address on February 17 that the country could ratify Sweden’s annexation at the beginning of the spring session of parliament this Monday.

NATO allies were concerned that, although Orbán had publicly supported the Swedish candidacy, the country had been dragging its feet on the matter for months. The delay in Budapest raised fears that Orban, the EU leader closest to Putin, was working to benefit the Kremlin.

However, in recent weeks, Europe has managed to bring Hungary into line with the bloc’s foreign policy goals. Earlier this month, Budapest withdrew its objections to a $50 billion EU funding deal for Ukraine, which Orban had vetoed on procedural grounds in December. Orbán’s critics accused him of blocking the deal in response to the EU’s decision to freeze funds earmarked for Hungary. Hungary denied that there was any connection between the two.

Sweden’s joining NATO comes at a critical time in the war in Ukraine, where Russia is enjoying new successes on the battlefield and cracks appear to be emerging in Western support for Kiev after two years of fighting. Attention has also shifted away from Europe as war broke out in the Middle East following Hamas attacks on Israel on October 7.

Rising populist sentiment in Europe and the United States ahead of elections in June and November, respectively, also threatens to hinder Ukraine’s efforts to continue its fight against Russia.

Politicians in Western democracies are struggling to convince increasingly skeptical voters that supporting Ukraine and stopping the march of authoritarianism abroad is a good use of billions of tax dollars as voters turn to other closer problems. As we are facing rising inflation.

With reporting by Luke McGee and Lauren Kent.


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