Hungary gives green light to Sweden to join NATO

“Today is a historic day,” Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristerson announced on the X social network shortly after the vote. “Sweden is ready to take responsibility for Euro-Atlantic security,” he added.

Kristerson recalled that “Sweden is leaving behind 200 years of neutrality and military non-alignment” and joining NATO means “the Nordic region has a common security for the first time in 500 years”.

“This is a big step and something to be taken seriously,” Sweden's prime minister told a press conference.

Stockholm's candidacy was approved by a majority of representatives (188 out of 199) in the Hungarian parliament on Monday.

At the start of this Monday's parliamentary session, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán welcomed the recent visit of his Swedish prime minister and the essential step to build “a fair and respectful relationship between the two countries” in addition to “differences of opinion”.

“Sweden's entry into NATO will strengthen Hungary's security,” Orban said.

Asked by reporters what made his country drop its opposition to Sweden's membership in NATO, Orbán, a right-wing nationalist with close ties to Russia, replied: “Being a member of NATO means that we are willing to die for each other. It is based on mutual respect. It was wise to take this process at the right pace.

Hungary's green light came after the Swedish prime minister and his Hungarian counterpart met on Friday and signed a new military pact, pledging to put aside all their differences.

The decision ended a two-year stalemate in February 2022, when Sweden, along with Finland, applied to NATO for increased security support, ending its policy of military non-alignment, following the Russian invasion of Ukraine. .

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When Finland became a member of the Atlantic alliance last year, Sweden was to stand Hungary and Turkey raised objections.

Turkey has been reluctant to join the Stockholm alliance and has demanded tougher action against Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) militants. Sweden changed its laws and relaxed rules on arms sales, eventually gaining approval from Turkey at the end of January.

Hungary was reticent for reasons that were less clear and did not present concrete demands.

Some experts see Hungary's slowdown as a threat strategy to extract concessions from the EU and billions of euros currently frozen, or as a sign of Viktor Orbán's closeness to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Reactions to Sweden's entry into NATO
Hungary's approval of Sweden's entry into the Atlantic alliance generates reactions from many leaders.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Sweden's membership would make the alliance “stronger”.

“I welcome the Hungarian Parliament's vote to recognize Sweden's membership in NATO. Now that all allies have ratified it, Sweden will become NATO's 32nd ally,” Stoltenberg wrote on the X social network.

French President Emmanuel Macron also congratulated Sweden and German Chancellor Olaf Scholes welcomed the decision to “strengthen” the security of “Europe and the world”.

“The path to joining NATO is clear for Sweden, which is a win for all of us. It is good that the Hungarian parliament approved the accession today,” Scholz wrote in X.

The U.S. ambassador in Budapest also reacted, saying that Sweden's accession to NATO would improve U.S. security and the security of the alliance as a whole. David Pressman also said the ratification was of “strategic importance” for Hungary.

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Now that Hungary's parliament has approved Sweden's entry into NATO, the decision will be sent to Hungary's interim president, László Kovar, who will have five days to sign it and send it to the US State Department in Washington.

According to NATO protocol, member states must notify the US government of a new country's approval. The Secretary General invites the new country to join the treaty, which is then forwarded to the US State Department, which formally invites it to become a member of NATO.

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