Hungary Opens Sweden’s Way to NATO

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Sweden applied to join the alliance together with Finland, and the latter met almost no obstacles on their way, unlike its neighbor. Sweden’s thorny path to NATO is ending. Hungary’s parliament, following Turkey, ratified Stockholm’s application to join the military alliance after almost two years of waiting. The kingdom, along with Finland, decided to give up its neutral status in May 2022 following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Speaking after the vote in Budapest on Monday, Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson called the day “historic”. “Sweden is leaving behind 200 years of neutrality and non-alignment. This is a big step. We must take it seriously,” he said. Jens Stoltenberg, NATO’s resigning secretary-general, said the move making Sweden NATO’s 32nd member would “strengthen and secure us all”. “Sweden has very capable troops, a first-class defense industry, and Sweden spends 2% of GDP on defense. This also demonstrates that NATO’s doors are open, despite President Putin’s attempt to close them,” Stoltenberg said. However, Stockholm residents feel ambivalent about Sweden’s NATO membership. Jakob Frederiksen, pilot: - I think the time has finally come. This is the right way for us. I think, in this new era it is better to be part of an alliance than independent and neutral. Ulrika Eklund, bank employee: - I am not sure if I want us to join NATO, and what effect it would have on Sweden and so on, because we have always been a neutral country. It will take several weeks to complete the final formalities for Sweden to join the North Atlantic alliance.