Hungary Greenlights Sweden’s NATO Bid after Prolonged Resistance
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By The Smartencyclopedia Staff & Agencies

Budapest – After months of contentious debates and diplomatic maneuvers, Hungary has finally given its approval for Sweden’s NATO membership bid. The pivotal vote, with 188 in favor and six against, signifies the end of Hungary’s prolonged opposition, paving the way for Sweden to join the alliance. Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s government had initially submitted the protocols for Sweden’s NATO entry in July 2022, but internal opposition had stalled the process.

The unanimous support from all NATO members is essential for the admission of new countries, and Hungary, the last among the alliance’s 31 nations, finally offered its backing after Turkey ratified the request last month.

Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson hailed the moment as “a historic day.” In a statement on the social platform X (formerly Twitter), Kristersson declared, “We stand ready to shoulder our share of the responsibility for NATO’s security.”

Prime Minister Orbán, a right-wing populist with close ties to Russia, had cited criticism of Hungary’s democracy by Swedish politicians as a hindrance to the NATO membership process. However, Monday’s vote removed the final hurdle for Sweden, which had applied to join NATO alongside Finland in May 2022, shortly after Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Addressing lawmakers before the vote, Orbán emphasized the strengthening of Hungary’s security through military cooperation with Sweden and Sweden’s NATO accession. He criticized external pressure from EU and NATO allies, asserting Hungary’s sovereignty in decision-making.

Last weekend, a bipartisan group of US senators visited Hungary, expressing concerns about democratic backsliding and urging Orbán’s government to lift the blockade on Sweden’s integration into NATO. However, a decisive reconciliation appeared to occur on Friday when Prime Minister Kristersson met with Orbán in Hungary’s capital. The leaders announced a defense industry agreement, including Hungary’s purchase of four Swedish-made JAS 39 Gripen jets, enhancing military capabilities and contributing to joint NATO operations.

Orbán stated, “To be a member of NATO together with another country means we are ready to die for each other.” He emphasized that the defense and military capacities deal would rebuild trust between the two nations.

In addition to the NATO vote, the Hungarian parliament addressed other crucial matters on Monday. Lawmakers accepted the resignation of President Katalin Novák, embroiled in a scandal over pardoning a man involved in covering up child sexual abuses. Tamás Sulyok, president of Hungary’s Constitutional Court, is set to replace Novák, with his formal inauguration scheduled for March 5.

The presidential signature is the final step needed to endorse Sweden’s NATO bid, expected in the coming days. Despite opposition parties advocating for direct presidential elections, Orbán’s Fidesz party’s majority in parliament is likely to confirm Sulyok’s presidency, solidifying Hungary’s recent diplomatic and political developments.

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