The Hungarian Parliament paves the way for Sweden's membership in NATO

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Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban met in Budapest on Friday

Sweden has cleared the final hurdle to joining NATO after the Hungarian Parliament voted to ratify the application.

The Nordic country has applied to join the defense alliance following Russia's large-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

Each member must agree to a new accession, and Hungary was late in doing so, accusing Sweden of being hostile to it.

But Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said last week that the two countries were “now ready to die for each other.”

All NATO members are expected to assist any ally under attack.

Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said it was a “historic day” and a “big step” for Sweden to abandon 200 years of neutrality.

He added: “Sweden is a distinguished country, but we are joining NATO to better defend everything we are and everything we believe in.”

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that the Hungarian decision made the alliance “stronger and safer.”

Parliament's approval must now be signed by the president – after which a formal invitation will be sent to Sweden to join the 31-member group.

The process usually lasts a few days.

Orban is a nationalist politician with close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin. He has often obstructed European Union efforts to send military aid to Ukraine.

Sweden is one of the European Union countries that accused Hungary of reneging on the democratic principles of the European Union.

In turn, Orban's spokesman, Zoltan Kovacs, accused Swedish officials of sitting on a “crumbling throne of moral superiority.”

But last week, Orban hosted his Swedish counterpart Ulf Kristersson and announced his support for Swedish membership.

The Hungarian MPs' vote on Monday was almost unanimous – 188 to 6.

In his speech, Orban strongly criticized unnamed NATO allies for putting pressure on his government to end the 21-month delay.

“Hungary is a sovereign state that does not tolerate being dictated to by others on the content or timing of decisions,” he said.

Turkey was the other NATO country that declined to agree to Sweden's request in a dispute over what it described as Sweden's support for Kurdish separatists. She eventually lifted her veto in January.

Sweden and its eastern neighbor Finland, both long considered militarily neutral, announced their intention to join NATO in May 2022.

Finland officially joined in April last year, doubling the length of the alliance's border with Russia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin sent his army into Ukraine in 2022 in hopes of curbing NATO expansion and weakening Western collectivism.

In fact, with the addition of Sweden and Finland, the opposite happened.

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