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Sweden Joins NATO as Hungary Parliament Approves Membership

Sweden is set to become the 32nd member of NATO following approval from Hungary's Parliament, with a strong majority of 188 in favor and 6 against.
This decision marks the expansion of the defense alliance after Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The ratification by Hungary concludes lengthy holdups that had frustrated fellow NATO members while Ukraine continued to resist Russian forces.

Sweden's Prime Minister, Ulf Kristersson, declared the vote a "historic day." The move by Sweden and its neighbor Finland to seek NATO membership came as a direct response to Russia's aggressive actions, abandoning their traditional policy of neutrality.

Finland joined NATO as its 31st member last April, but Sweden's bid was delayed, with Turkey only giving its approval the previous month. The vote in Hungary's Parliament now paves the way for the country to formally join the alliance.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán had urged legislators to support Sweden's entry, citing enhancements to Hungary’s security through cooperation with Sweden.

Ahead of the vote, Orbán's Fidesz party, with a two-thirds parliamentary majority, signaled its backing for Sweden's accession, joined by all opposition groups except the far-right Our Homeland movement.

Hungary prolonged the ratification process, demanding Stockholm to refrain from criticizing the Hungarian government. However, after a Budapest meeting between Orbán and Kristersson that settled grievances between the two leaders, Hungary went forward with the agreement.

In addition to approving Sweden's NATO membership, Hungary agreed to purchase four Swedish fighter jets.

Sweden's NATO membership is expected to be finalized soon with the president's signature, officially inviting the country to join the Washington Treaty.

Finland's NATO inclusion was recently completed after Turkey's authorization on March 30, 2023, making Finland a NATO member on April 4.

Despite the delays with Sweden's membership, many believe these were tactics by Hungary to negotiate with Brussels over funding and to demonstrate Orbán's political influence.

Analyst Máté Szalai from Venice's Ca' Foscari University suggests that Orbán aimed to assert Hungary's significance while appeasing his domestic base, perceiving resistance to European pressures as a political strategy to bolster Fidesz's popularity within Hungary.

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