Sweden is completing its eventful process of joining NATO

One of the most tangible consequences of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine two years ago is that Sweden and Finland, two historically unmilitary countries, knocked on NATO’s doors in search of security from the threat Wladimir Putin. After reaching a broad partisan and public consensus, Stockholm and Helsinki jointly officially submitted their formal application to join the Atlantic Alliance in May 2022.

However, an accession process that was seen as a mere formality given the close cooperation between its modern armies and transatlantic allies became a real obstacle course for the Swedish authorities, which were at the mercy of the veto of two of Putin’s allies, the Turk Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the Hungarian Viktor Orban. Finland, on the other hand, made progress and became NATO’s 31st member country as of April last year.

After overcoming reluctance from Ankara, which described Sweden as a “haven” for Kurdish terrorism, the Turkish parliament gave the green light for Sweden’s accession in January. But Hungary did not want to miss the opportunity to play its negotiating card against Sweden, which it described as “arrogant” for its criticism of the deterioration of the rule of law.

This time the Swedish conservative government had to accept that the Prime Minister, Ulf Kristersson, Orban will visit Budapest on Friday to sign a bilateral military agreement. Sweden agrees to sell four JAS Gripen fighter jets to Hungary and provide logistical support for the other 14 Swedish aircraft that the Hungarian army has had since 2001.

“Today we reached an agreement to expand the Hungarian Armed Forces’ Gripen fleet by four aircraft,” Orban announced after a conversation with Kristersson. “On Monday the Hungarian Parliament will meet and make the necessary decisions. We are thus closing one phase and opening a new one.”

Sweden and NATO
Sweden and NATOAntonio CruzThe reason

Although Orban declines to link the agreement to the ratification of Sweden’s NATO membership, the pact actually comes just three days before the Hungarian parliament’s vote this afternoon on the ratification of the accession treaty after the ruling Fidesz party came to power . his veto to put it on the parliamentary agenda, as the social democratic opposition had demanded.

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If Parliament votes in favor, as expected, the minutes of the decision will be sent to Hungary’s interim president. Laszló Kövér, who has five days after receipt to sign the text. The protocol must then be flown to Washington and handed over to the US State Department, which has NATO’s founding treaty. In the case of Finland, this process took three days.

Confirming that all NATO members have ratified Sweden’s request, the organization’s Secretary General said: Jens Stoltenbergwill invite Sweden to deposit its accession document with the United States. This step can be done in different ways. A Swedish representative can travel to Washington in person or present the document directly during a ceremony in Brussels, as Finland decided to do last April. The then Finnish Foreign Minister, Pekka HaavistoHe was the one who delivered the accession documents and then the blue and white flag could be raised at NATO headquarters in Brussels.

In the Swedish case, according to the TT news agency, the government intends that the prime minister will be the main actor in the historic ceremony at which the blue and yellow flag will be raised. Sweden is already a full member and can take part in the extraordinary summit in Washington from July 9 to 11, bringing together the 32 heads of state and government to celebrate the 75th anniversary of NATO’s founding.

By then, Sweden will have ended more than 200 years of neutrality and military non-alignment in record time. For NATO, the Baltic Sea will become the organization’s inland sea after it completes its expansion into northern Europe with the integration of the only two countries that had remained outside since its founding in 1949.

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