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Hungary ratifies the accession of Sweden, soon to be 32nd member of NATO

Photo: Denes Erdos Associated Press Stockholm's candidacy was approved by an overwhelming majority of Hungarian MPs (188 out of 199).

Andras Rostovanyi – Agence France-Presse in Stockholm and Budapest

1:48 p.m.

  • Europe

Sweden will join NATO after ratification by the Hungarian Parliament, the final step in the accession process for this Nordic country keen to join the Atlantic Alliance since the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“A historic day”, Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson reacted on X (formerly Twitter) a few minutes after the vote, adding that “Sweden is ready to assume its responsibilities in terms of euro security -atlantic”.

Sweden, which announced its candidacy at the same time as Finland in the wake of the Russian offensive in Ukraine, will become the 32nd member of NATO and end more than 200 years of military non-alignment.

Stockholm's candidacy was approved by an overwhelming majority by Hungarian MPs (188 out of 199), who thus removed the last obstacle to membership.

This will make the Atlantic Alliance “stronger”, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Monday. Words echoed by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, stressing that this decision “strengthens our defense alliance and with it the security of Europe and the world”.

The wait will have been long and the road chaotic to Stockholm: to the negotiations with Turkey, concluded by a positive vote in January, were added the procrastination of the Hungarian nationalist leader Viktor Orban, the last holdout.

In the streets of the Swedish capital, the news was received positively.

“I am very relieved because we have been waiting for it [Sweden's entry into NATO] for so long,” reacted Ingrid Lindskog, a 73-year-old retiree, to AFP .

How will the Russians react ? “The only thing we can expect for sure is that they don't like Sweden becoming a member of NATO, nor that Finland is a member of NATO”, commented the Swedish Prime Minister at a press conference.

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“Instrument of Accession”

At the opening of the parliamentary session, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban welcomed the recent visit of his Swedish counterpart, an essential step in building “a fair and respectful relationship between the two countries”, -beyond “differences of opinion”.

“Sweden’s entry into NATO will strengthen Hungary’s security,” he added.

Mr. Orban had certainly given his agreement in principle a long time ago, but before completing the process, he demanded “respect” from Stockholm, after years of “denigration” of his policies.

To seal this new cooperation, Hungary announced on Friday the purchase of four combat aircraft from Sweden in order to strengthen its current fleet of 14 Gripen aircraft.

Sweden's accession protocol, which requires unanimity of the members of the Atlantic Alliance, had been in progress since May 2022.

The law must still be promulgated by the Hungarian president in the coming days.

Sweden will then be able to deposit its “instrument of accession” in Washington, in accordance with the NATO treaty, to become the 32nd member.

In the case of Finland for example, Helsinki postponed the vote five days after Turkey, the last country to have given the green light.

“Last piece of the puzzle”

Sweden thus broke with its policy of neutrality adopted after the end of the Napoleonic Wars in the 19th century, then of military non-alignment since the end of the Cold War.

This membership “is useless in some ways, I don’t know what the price is. We will be involved with other countries which perhaps do not share the same values ​​as us,” Otto Perrin, a 27-year-old sound engineer, responded to AFP.

Sweden's accession — after Finland's — to NATO also means that the Baltic Sea is now surrounded by Alliance member countries, with some analysts calling it the “lake of the sea”. 'NATO'.

“This is the last piece of the puzzle of the NATO map in Northern Europe falling into place,” says Robert Dalsjö, an analyst at the Swedish Defense Research Agency (FAITH).

Sweden's accession to NATO was accompanied by a marked hardening of the rhetoric of its leaders, with the commander-in-chief of the Swedish armed forces, Micael Biden, declaring in January that his compatriots “must prepare themselves mentally for the war “.

From now on, “the Nordic countries will have a common defense for the first time in 500 years […], we remain friends and we become allies”, welcomed Ulf Kristersson at a press conference.

In addition to its NATO candidacy, Sweden signed an agreement at the beginning of December authorizing the United States to have access to 17 military bases on its soil.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116