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NATO: Hungarian Parliament ready to ratify Sweden's membership

The Hungarian Parliament is preparing to speak approve on Monday the accession of Sweden è NATO, the final step for the Nordic country wishing to join the Atlantic Alliance since the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

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

He had certainly given his agreement in principle a long time ago but before completing the process, he demanded “respect” from Stockholm, considered too critical of his policy.

The situation has finally been resolved in recent weeks, with the visit on Friday of Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson marking the epilogue of a “long process to rebuild trust”, in the words of Mr. Orban.

To seal this cooperation, the two countries announced the purchase by Budapest of four combat aircraft from Sweden to strengthen its current fleet of 14 Gripen aircraft.

– 32nd member –

The Parliament vote, scheduled shortly after 4:20 p.m. (3:20 p.m. GMT), promises to be unsurprising given the majority of two-thirds held by the ruling coalition. The opposition will also vote in favor, with the exception of the far-right Our Fatherland.

NATO: Hungarian Parliament ready to ratify Sweden's membership

A flag with the NATO logo, February 15, 2024 in Brussels © AFP – JOHN THYS

Sweden's NATO accession protocol, which requires the unanimity of the 31 members of the Atlantic Alliance, has been on hold since May 2022.

Stockholm announced its candidacy in the wake of the Kremlin offensive in Ukraine, at the same time as Finland, which entered in April 2023.

The two neighboring countries have thus broken with decades of neutrality following the Second World War, then of military non-alignment since the end of the Cold War.

To the thread For months, Hungary has continued to delay the deadline, each time invoking different pretexts.

Some experts saw it as a strategy of blackmail to obtain concessions from the EU and the release of billions of euros of currently frozen funds, others sign it of Viktor Orban's proximity to Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish Head of State Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

But for analyst Mate Szalai, the Hungarian Prime Minister prioritizes national interests above all else.

“He went as far as possible”, stopping just in time “so as not to cause serious problems for the transatlantic community “, he told AFP. Just as it blocked crucial aid to Ukraine for months before giving in in early February under pressure from its EU partners.

By adopting such strategy, he wants to prove that his small country of less than 10 million inhabitants counts and “should not be underestimated”, estimates the researcher from the Ca' Foscari University of Venice.

He does not reap “any tangible results in terms of foreign policy”, but this attitude of “confrontation” on the international scene serves him to “maintain his popularity at home”.< /p>

At the risk of being caught in its own trap: if Hungary had ratified Finnish accession three days before Turkey, this time it was the last, despite its promises.

All rights of reproduction and representation reserved. © (2024) Agence France-Presse

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