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Hungarian parliament approves Sweden's NATO bid

Xinhua | Updated: 2024-02-27 00:00

A Swedish flag hangs outside a business on a street of the old city of Stockholm, Sweden, Feb 24, 2024. [Photo/Agencies]

BUDAPEST -- Hungary's lawmakers on Monday approved a bill on Sweden's bid to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

Out of the 199 members of parliament (MP), 194 participated in the voting, with 188 votes in favor and six against.

The Hungarian parliament voted on the bill on the first day of the spring session of the Parliament.

"The Swedish-Hungarian military cooperation and Sweden's NATO accession strengthen Hungary's security," Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban said before the agenda of the parliament.

Elod Novak of the opposition party Our Homeland was one of the six MPs who voted against it. "Let's veto Sweden's NATO accession," he said before the vote, urging the MPs to "veto the path that leads to World War III."

With Monday's ratification, Hungary became the last of the 31 NATO member countries that approved Sweden's bid to join the military alliance, following the green light from the Turkish parliament on Jan 23.

Sweden will officially become the 32nd member of the alliance at its next summit in Washington DC in July.

The bill still needs to be signed by the newly elected President of Hungary Tamas Sulyok to become law.

The Hungarian parliament's ratification was welcomed by Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson. Calling it "a historic day", Kristersson wrote on social media platform X that Sweden stands ready to shoulder its responsibility for Euro-Atlantic security.

Sweden and Finland applied to join NATO after the Ukrainian crisis escalated in February 2022. Their accession required the unanimous approval of all members of NATO.

Hungary's parliament approved Finland's NATO bid in March last year but delayed Sweden's accession due to debates within the parliamentary group of the ruling Fidesz party regarding Sweden's criticisms about the rule of law in Hungary.

However, this dispute was settled at a meeting between Orban and Kristersson in Budapest last Friday. The two sides announced an agreement for Hungary to purchase four new Gripen fighter jets from Sweden.

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