Hungary votes on Sweden’s accession to NATO

NATO could welcome its 32nd member in the next few days: after a long delay, the Hungarian parliament wants to vote on Sweden's application for membership - and the signs point to approval.

After a long blockade by Hungary, Sweden is finally set to clear the last major hurdle on the way to its desired NATO membership today: Parliament in Budapest is voting on the Scandinavian country’s application, which was submitted almost two years ago.

Hungary is the last NATO member that has not yet ratified Sweden’s accession. However, since Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s Fidesz party recently signaled its approval, a positive vote result is expected. This would clear the way for Sweden to join the Western defense alliance.

Türkiye agreed in January

In the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Sweden and Finland applied for membership in NATO in May 2022. Finland was admitted to the alliance as the 31st member in April 2023. Sweden, on the other hand, struggled for many months longer to gain the approval of NATO members Turkey and Hungary.

Turkey ended its blockade in January. Immediately afterwards, the US government initiated the sale of F-16 fighter jets to Ankara.

However, Hungary continued to delay its consent. Leading politicians from Orban’s party had claimed that they were “insulted” because there had been criticism from Sweden of the democratic conditions in Hungary. This destroyed bilateral trust. Sweden’s Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson must restore this by visiting Budapest.

Formal membership possible in the next few days

Kristersson then traveled to Hungary on Friday. After a meeting with Orban, he and the Hungarian head of government announced an agreement on the sale of four new Swedish “Jas 39 Gripen” fighter jets to Hungary.

Sweden has so far received the approval of 30 of the 31 NATO members combined. Even if the parliament in Budapest ratifies it, it still has to be signed by the President. This is likely to be one of the first official acts of Tamas Sulyok, whom Hungary’s parliament is likely to elect as head of state for Sweden shortly after ratification. He would succeed Katalin Novak, who resigned two weeks ago after pardoning a man involved in a pedophilia scandal.

The Hungarian ratification must then be formally deposited with the US State Department in Washington. In the following days, Sweden could be welcomed as the 32nd member of the alliance with a ceremony in which the Swedish flag will be raised in front of NATO headquarters in Brussels.

Turkey, Finland and Sweden to meet at NATO


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