Hungary vote clears path for Sweden’s Nato membership

Connie Queline

Hungary vote clears path for Sweden’s Nato membership

Reuters

Hungarian MPs have overwhelmingly ratified Sweden’s bid to join Nato in a long-delayed vote which paves the way for the Nordic nation’s membership.

Sweden applied to join in 2022 after Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, but Hungary had accused it of being hostile.

Last week, however, Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban said they were now “prepared to die for each other”.

All Nato members are expected to help an ally which comes under attack.

Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said today was a “historic day” and that Sweden was “ready to shoulder its responsibility for Euro-Atlantic security”.

Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the Hungarian parliament’s decision made the alliance “stronger and safer”.

  • What is Nato and which countries are members?
  • Who is Viktor Orban, Hungarian PM with 14-year grip on power?

Mr Orban is a nationalist politician with close ties to Russia’s President Vladimir Putin.

He has often blocked EU efforts to send military aid to Ukraine.

Sweden is one of the EU countries which have accused Hungary of backsliding on the EU’s democratic principles.

In turn, Mr Orban’s spokesman Zoltan Kovacs accused officials in Sweden of sitting on a “crumbling throne of moral superiority”.

Last week, however, Mr Orban hosted his Swedish counterpart Ulf Kristersson and announced his support for Sweden’s membership.

Monday’s vote was almost unanimous – 188 to 6.

In his speech, Mr Orban sharply criticised unnamed Nato allies for exerting pressure on his government to end the 21-month delay.

“Hungary is a sovereign country and does not tolerate being dictated to by others, on the content or timing of decisions,” he said.

The parliament’s approval must now be signed by the president – after which a formal invitation is sent to Sweden to join the 31-member-strong group.

The process usually lasts a few days.

Turkey had been the other Nato country to withhold approval of Sweden’s application in a row over what it called Sweden’s support to Kurdish separatists. It eventually lifted its veto in January.

Every member has a veto over the expansion of the defensive alliance.

Sweden and its eastern neighbour Finland, both long considered militarily neutral, announced their intention to join Nato in May 2022.

Finland formally joined in April last year, doubling the length of the alliance’s border with Russia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin sent his army into Ukraine in 2022 in the expectation it would check Nato’s expansion and weaken Western collectivism.

In fact, with the adhesion of Sweden and Finland, the exact opposite has happened.

Related Topics

  • Sweden
  • Nato
  • Finland
  • Hungary

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