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

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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 its prime minister hailed as a “historic day” – dealing a major blow to Russia.

Sweden's Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson today expressed his happiness at HunGary's approval of their bid

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Sweden’s Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson today expressed his happiness at HunGary’s approval of their bidCredit: AP
Kristersson stands next to Nato head Jens Stoltenberg who said Nato would now be 'stonger and safer'

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Kristersson stands next to Nato head Jens Stoltenberg who said Nato would now be ‘stonger and safer’Credit: AP

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” while 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,” he added.

The United States, the main alliance power and Britain and Germany welcomed Sweden’s now imminent accession.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said 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.

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.

Hungary then followed, with 188 parliament members voting in favour and six far-right deputies against.

Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban had long stalled Sweden’s membership but told parliament that it would “strengthen Hungary’s security”.

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.

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 echoed Sweden by also declaring 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.”

Sweden will join Finland as the newest members to the defensive alliance

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Sweden will join Finland as the newest members to the defensive allianceCredit: Reuters
French President Emmanuel Macron pictured with Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs Tobias Billstrom today

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French President Emmanuel Macron pictured with Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs Tobias Billstrom todayCredit: Getty

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