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Montevideo, April 23rd 2024 - 08:20 UTC

 

 

Budapest okays Sweden's NATO membership

Tuesday, February 27th 2024 - 10:20 UTC
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Sweden's NATO membership came around the second anniversary of Russia's invasion of Ukraine Sweden's NATO membership came around the second anniversary of Russia's invasion of Ukraine

Hungary's nod Monday after more than 18 months cleared the way for Sweden to become the 32nd member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), thus tipping Europe's military balance in response to Russia's war in Ukraine. Sweden’s accession to NATO is now expected to be a formality, with a ceremony later this week.

After 188 votes in favor and six against at Budapest's Parliament, the government of Prime Minister Viktor Orban finally moved on with the documents submitted in July 2022, but which had stalled due to opposition from ruling party lawmakers.

Sweden's membership was welcomed both by NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and German Chancellor Olaf Schultz. Both men agreed that all NATO countries would benefit from Sweden's membership, with Stoltenberg saying Sweden's membership will “make us all stronger and safer.”

Hungary's decision paved the way for NATO's second expansion in a year after Finland's move following Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Budapest's decision was eagerly awaited after the greenlight from Ankara last month since a unanimous acceptance from all NATO members is required to admit new countries into the alliance. Finland joined in April 2023.

Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said it was a “historic day.” “We are abandoning 200 years of neutrality: this is a giant step and we must take it seriously,” he stressed. “We are ready to take our share of responsibility for NATO security,” Kristersson wrote on X. For the entirety of the Cold War, Sweden and Finland steadfastly resisted joining the alliance, preferring to maintain a neutral stance between East and West Europe. Sweden had maintained its own neutrality for over two hundred years, throughout both World Wars and the Cold War.

Orban, a right-wing ruler who has forged close ties with Russia, has said criticism of Hungarian democracy by Swedish politicians soured relations between the two countries and provoked reluctance among lawmakers in his Fidesz party. But “military cooperation between Sweden and Hungary and Sweden's NATO membership strengthen Hungary's security,” he insisted.

”Several people tried to intervene from outside in the resolution of our disputes (with Sweden), which did not help, but rather hindered the issue,“ Orbán argued. ”Hungary is a sovereign country. It does not tolerate others dictating to it, either the content of its decisions or their timing.”

Kristersson and Orban met last week in the Hungarian capital, where they appeared to reach a decisive reconciliation after months of diplomatic tensions.

Last weekend, a bipartisan group of US senators visited Hungary and announced that they would submit a joint resolution to Congress condemning Hungary's alleged democratic backsliding and urging the Orbán government to immediately lift its blockade of Sweden's NATO membership.

Sweden's NATO membership came around the second anniversary of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, although the two countries have been fighting since 2014, and large portions of Eastern Ukraine have been held by Russia since 2015.

Categories: Politics, International.
Tags: Hungary, NATO, Sweden.

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