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Orban approves defense deal with Stockholm for Sweden's NATO accession

Orban approves defense deal with Stockholm for Sweden's NATO accession Viktor Orban (Getty Images)
Author: Maria Kholina

Hungary and Sweden are set to sign a defense industry agreement, opening the possibility for the parliament in Budapest to ratify the Northern country's NATO accession at the beginning of next week, according to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

Orban, who is hosting his Swedish counterpart, Ulf Kristersson, in Budapest today, said that the agreement would be the final step necessary to convince his lawmakers to support Sweden's application to join NATO.

The vote in the Hungarian parliament on February 26 is the ultimate approval needed for Sweden's accession to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which will help the military alliance bolster its eastern flank following Finland's entry into NATO in April of last year. Russia's invasion of Ukraine two years ago spurred both Scandinavian countries to apply for NATO membership.

Kristersson previously said that both sides could discuss cooperation involving Swedish-made Gripen fighters, which Hungary employs in its Air Force.

Hungary operates 14 Gripen aircraft under a leasing agreement set to expire in 2026, and negotiations are underway for extending and expanding this deal.

Orban, Russia's closest ally in the European Union, also reiterated his calls to cease support for what he deems as futile attempts by Ukraine to repel Russia's aggression. The victory of Donald Trump in the US elections in November will help sway the NATO alliance toward such a position, Orban said.

Sweden's NATO accession

Sweden applied for NATO membership in 2022. The only countries delaying the ratification of membership were Türkiye and Hungary. Recently, the Turkish parliament approved Sweden's entry into the alliance.

The final step on Sweden's path to NATO is ratification by the Hungarian parliament.

This week it was announced that Hungary's ruling party, Fidesz, intends to approve Sweden's NATO accession on February 26.