Hungary approves Sweden’s bid to join NATO after more than a year of delays

Hungary approves Sweden’s bid to join NATO after more than a year of delays

SWEDEN will become the 32nd country to join Nato after Hungary finally approved its bid to join the alliance.

The last obstacle in the Nordic state’s path has been removed in what Western leaders hailed as a “historic day” – dealing a major blow to Russia.

APSweden’s Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson today expressed his happiness at HunGary’s approval of their bid[/caption]

APKristersson stands next to Nato head Jens Stoltenberg who said Nato would now be ‘stonger and safer’[/caption]

Sweden will finally join the Nato after Hungary — the final holdout among the alliance states — held a parliamentary vote to approve the move after more than a year of delays.

Nato chief Jens Stoltenberg said Sweden would make the alliance “stronger and safer” as other alliance members expressed relief at the move spurred by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Sweden’s Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson wrote on X: “Today is a historic day… Sweden stands ready to shoulder its responsibility for Euro-Atlantic security.”

Going forward, he added: “Nordic countries will have a common defence for the first time in 500 years… we remain friends, and we become allies.

Finland joined in April last year, but Sweden’s bid was stalled by both Hungary and Turkey, with Ankara approving Stockholm’s candidacy only last month.

British PM Rishi Sunak echoed Kristersson, saying that today marked “a historic day for our alliance.”

“Sweden, we are looking forward to welcoming you to NATO very soon,” he wrote on X.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz also declared that having Sweden in Nato “strengthens our defence alliance and with it the security of Europe and the world”.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine two years ago prompted Sweden and neighbouring Finland to apply to join the trans-Atlantic bloc, ending their longstanding stance of non-alignment.

However, Hungary’s Prime Minister, Viktor Orbán, who still maintains a good relationship with Vladimir Putin, withheld approval for over 600 days.

Every Nato member has to approve a new country – and Orbán’s lengthy holdout frustrated the other 31 alliance nations as Putin ramped up his threats against the alliance.

But he admitted today that Sweden’s membership would “strengthen Hungary’s security”.

Today, 188 parliament members voted in favour and six far-right deputies against.

Though repeatedly saying it supported Swedish membership in principle, Hungary kept prolonging the process, asking Stockholm to stop “vilifying” the Hungarian government.

After a meeting on Friday between the nationalist Orban and Kristersson in Budapest, the Hungarian leader announced that the two had clarified “our mutual good intentions”.

Hungary also signed a deal to acquire four Swedish-made fighter jets, expanding its fleet of 14 Jas-39 Gripen fighters.

Hungary’s president is expected to sign the law within days.

Sweden, which has been militarily neutral for two centuries, will then be invited to accede to the Washington Treaty and officially become NATO’s 32nd member.

“It is the last piece of the puzzle in the NATO map for northern Europe,” said Robert Dalsjo, an analyst for the Swedish Defence Research Agency (FOI).

People in Sweden mainly cheered the approval.

Jimmy Dahllof, 35, said Sweden would be “safer… bringing us closer to our European neighbours”.

“I am very relieved because we have been waiting so long,” said Ingrid Lindskrog, a 73-year-old pensioner.

All the Baltic nations except Russia will now be part of the alliance. 

The looming membership has been accompanied by a toughening of declarations by its leaders.

General Per Micael Buden, commander-in-chief of the Swedish military, said in January that Swedish people “must mentally prepare for war”.

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky – who is steadfast in his ambition for Ukraine to join the alliance – also declared today a “historic day” for Europe.

He wrote on X: “Sweden’s accession will undoubtedly strengthen the Alliance, particularly in light of the Russian threat to the free world.

“We look forward to working closely with Sweden and other NATO allies to advance Ukraine’s NATO membership.

“With Finland and Sweden joining NATO as its 31st and 32nd allies, the Baltic Sea has been transformed into a sea of NATO and peace. With Ukraine as NATO’s 33rd ally, this will also apply to the Black Sea.”

ReutersSweden will join Finland as the newest members to the defensive alliance[/caption]

GettyFrench President Emmanuel Macron pictured with Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs Tobias Billstrom today[/caption]

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