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Türkiye has ratified Sweden’s membership application, leaving Budapest as the last holdout

The Hungarian government is in favor of Sweden joining NATO and will soon schedule a ratification vote in the parliament, Prime Minister Victor Orban announced on Wednesday. The move will allow Stockholm to become a member of the US-led military bloc after almost two years of delays.

Sweden applied to join NATO in May 2022, citing the Russia-Ukraine conflict, but ran into opposition from Türkiye and Hungary due to ongoing disputes with the two states. The bloc’s rules require the consent of all members before it can accept new ones.

Just finished a phone call with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg,” Orban said on X (formerly Twitter). “I reaffirmed that the Hungarian government supports the NATO membership of Sweden. I also stressed that we will continue to urge the Hungarian National Assembly to vote in favor of Sweden’s accession and conclude the ratification at the first possible opportunity.”

Budapest has accused Stockholm of telling “blatant lies” about Hungarian democracy as part of an ongoing dispute within the European Union. As of Wednesday, the Hungarian parliament has not put up the ratification vote on its docket. 

Turkish lawmakers voted to approve Sweden’s membership on Tuesday, sending the ratification bill to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s desk. Ankara had serious differences with Stockholm over human rights, terrorism and arms trade, which interfered with NATO plans to have Sweden and Finland join the bloc together.

Both Scandinavian countries abandoned their long-standing policy of non-alignment after Russia launched a military operation in Ukraine, citing it as a threat to their security. When Finland officially joined the bloc in April 2023, NATO doubled the length of its border with Russia.

Moscow said that it had no issue with either country until then, but would have to react to them joining NATO. Russia has repeatedly insisted that the bloc’s expansion eastward, which began in 1999, is a threat to Russian national security and one of the root causes of the Ukraine conflict.

Orban has repeatedly called for peace in Ukraine and said he would block any attempts by Kiev to join NATO or the EU, as that would mean “bringing the war” into both organizations.

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