Hungary and Sweden finalize fighter jet deal ahead of NATO membership vote | NATO News

Hungary, the most recent NATO country to approve Sweden’s membership bid, is set to hold a parliamentary vote on Monday. The decision comes after Budapest signed a deal to purchase four fighter jets from Sweden, paving the way for the approval of Stockholm’s bid to join the alliance after nearly two years of delays.

During a news conference with Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson, Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban expressed that the acquisition of Saab JAS Gripen fighter jets will not only maintain but also strengthen Hungary’s air defense capability. This move demonstrates Hungary’s commitment to NATO and its willingness to enhance its participation in joint operations.

Kristersson welcomed the agreement, emphasizing the importance of collaboration in areas of common interest between the two countries. The deal marks a significant step towards solidifying Sweden’s NATO application, with Hungary being the final country to approve it.

The delay in ratifying Sweden’s NATO membership created tensions between Hungary and the United States, while also causing concerns among allies. Sweden’s application to join the alliance was prompted by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022, leading to Finland’s accession as the 31st NATO member last year.

Orban indicated that unresolved military and arms issues needed to be addressed before the parliamentary vote on Sweden’s NATO bid. Despite differences in values, particularly regarding the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, Hungary aims to bridge these gaps and work towards a peaceful resolution.

Sweden’s potential membership in NATO would position the country as a crucial logistics hub for the alliance in Northern Europe, given its strategic location along the Baltic Sea. Previously resistant to NATO membership, Swedes have shifted their stance following the conflict in Ukraine and actively participate in NATO exercises.

Orban’s previous delays in ratifying Sweden’s NATO bid were attributed to disagreements over governance and criticism from Stockholm. However, with the recent agreement to acquire fighter jets, Hungary is now poised to sign off on Sweden’s alliance membership. Orban also called for a ceasefire in the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, emphasizing the need for a peaceful resolution over military intervention.

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