Sweden set to join NATO after Hungary approves bid

Sweden’s journey towards NATO membership reached a crucial milestone on Monday as Hungary’s parliament gave its long-awaited approval, marking a historic shift in the geopolitical landscape.

Sweden’s Prime Minister, Ulf Kristersson, hailed the day as historic, emphasizing that Sweden is ready to shoulder its responsibility for Euro-Atlantic security. The move comes as a response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine two years ago, prompting both Sweden and Finland to apply for NATO membership, abandoning their longstanding stance of non-alignment.

NATO Chief Jens Stoltenberg expressed confidence that Sweden’s accession would make the alliance “stronger and safer,” a sentiment echoed by key alliance members including the United States, Britain, and Germany. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz emphasized that Sweden’s inclusion in NATO strengthens the defense alliance, ensuring the security of Europe and the world.

The ratification by Hungary, following a year of delays, finally cleared the last obstacle for Sweden. The voting result, with 188 parliament members in favor and six far-right deputies against, reflects a pivotal moment in Nordic and European security.

Sweden’s impending NATO membership not only signifies a common defense for Nordic countries but also ends its two-century-long military neutrality. Prime Minister Kristersson, anticipating Russia’s displeasure, stated, “The only thing we can expect with any certainty is that they don’t like Sweden becoming a member of NATO, nor Finland.”

The move is a significant step towards a unified defense strategy in Northern Europe. General Per Micael Buden, commander-in-chief of the Swedish military, urged the population to mentally prepare for war, highlighting the seriousness of the geopolitical shift.

In a diplomatic turn, Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who had long stalled Sweden’s NATO membership, announced the clarification of “mutual good intentions” after a meeting with Kristersson. Hungary’s approval was also coupled with a deal to acquire four Swedish-made fighter jets, further solidifying ties between the nations.

With this approval, Sweden is set to become NATO’s 32nd member, joining Finland as the only Nordic nations in the alliance. All Baltic nations, excluding Russia, are now part of NATO, reshaping the regional security dynamics.

The looming membership has not only brought relief to the Swedish population but also marks a significant geopolitical shift in Northern Europe. While some experts see Hungary’s delay as a strategy to gain concessions from the EU, others argue it underlines Orban’s close ties with Russia and Turkey.

As Sweden prepares for its official invitation to accede to the Washington Treaty, the nation’s decision to join NATO has ignited a mix of cheers, relief, and strategic considerations among its citizens and geopolitical observers alike.

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