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Hungary oks Swedish NATO bid after PM visit

| 2024-02-29 2 min read

Hungary oks Swedish NATO bid after PM visit

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Hungarian MPs approved a proposal on ratifying Sweden’s accession to NATO with 188 in favour and 6 dissenting votes, on Monday, 26 February. Hungary was the last member of the defence alliance to vote through Sweden’s membership.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg tweeted “I welcome the Hungarian parliament’s vote to ratify Sweden’s membership in NATO,” Stoltenberg tweeted. “Now that all Allies have approved, Sweden will become the 32nd NATO Ally. Sweden’s membership will make us all stronger and safer.”

Swedish PM inks deals in Budapest

The previous Friday Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson visited Hungary’s capital Budapest where he signed 2 new military industry deals, under which Hungary will receive 4 more JAS- 39 Gripen fighter jets, to add to the 14 already leased from Sweden, which Hungary will own from 2026.

Hungary has decided to increase its air defence capabilities with a fleet of Gripen fighter jets, with four new planes, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said.

As a result, Hungary will continue to take part in NATO operations protecting Europe, as the Gripens will police Baltic airspace, he added. 

With the war between Russia and Ukraine it is timely to enable the air force to use its equipment in performing operations with its allies outside the country’s airspace, Orban said. 

He denied that the bilateral defence agreement was the reason for Hungary ending months of limbo over Sweden’s NATO application. “This isn’t a business deal involving NATO membership in exchange for Gripens,” Orban said.

Orban claims delay was to rebuild trust with Sweden

The first Orban administration of 1998-2002 ordered Gripen fighters, the contracts for which were about to expire. “Since we were poor when we bought the first Gripens, we couldn’t buy as many as we needed,” Orban said. 

Orban claimed that the countries had made careful preparations to “rebuild past trust”.  The recent breakthrough was not a matter of Hungary changing its mind but about a process. “This took some time,” he said.

Swedish carmaker Saab and the Hungarian Defence Innovation Research Institute meanwhile signed a deal to establish an AI-focused centre of excellence. Sweden and Hungary will also cooperate on research and development.