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Hungary has approved Sweden's bid to join NATO, the final hurdle to membership

Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson (left) meets Hungarian counterpart Viktor Orban on Feb. 23, ahead of Monday's key vote in Hungary's parliament on Sweden's bid to join NATO.
Attila Kisbenedek
/
AFP via Getty Images
Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson (left) meets Hungarian counterpart Viktor Orban on Feb. 23, ahead of Monday's key vote in Hungary's parliament on Sweden's bid to join NATO.

BERLIN — Hungary's parliament has approved Sweden's bid to join NATO, clearing the way for the Nordic country's accession to the military alliance after almost two years of intense negotiations.

Getting approval from the Hungarian parliament was the final hurdle for Sweden to joining NATO. In Hungary's parliament on Monday, 188 voted in favor and six against it, with five abstaining.

"Today is a historic day. The parliaments of all NATO member states have now voted in favour of Swedish accession to NATO. Sweden stands ready to shoulder its responsibility for Euro-Atlantic security," a tweet from the office of Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said Monday.

Kristersson visited Hungary's capital of Budapest on Friday to discuss defense and security cooperation with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

The two sides appeared to reconcile after two years of tough relations. They agreed on a deal in which Hungary will acquire four new Swedish-made JAS 39 Gripen jets.

Sweden is now close to becoming NATO's 32nd member, following its neighbor Finland, which joined the alliance last year.

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Rob Schmitz is NPR's international correspondent based in Berlin, where he covers the human stories of a vast region reckoning with its past while it tries to guide the world toward a brighter future. From his base in the heart of Europe, Schmitz has covered Germany's levelheaded management of the COVID-19 pandemic, the rise of right-wing nationalist politics in Poland and creeping Chinese government influence inside the Czech Republic.