Sweden finally becomes a member of NATO

Henry

After a waiting period of almost two years since its application in 2022, Sweden has finally officially become a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

A country can only become a member of NATO if there is unanimity between the existing members about the new candidate. Two existing members, Turkey and Hungary, objected and that is why Sweden’s entry was delayed for so long.

Turkey has accused Sweden of harboring terrorists who threaten the Turkish state. Indeed, Sweden also offers asylum to political refugees who stand in opposition to the Turkish regime, but few of them can be described as terrorists. Finally, Sweden and Turkey were able to reach an agreement and Turkey opened the way for Swedish membership.

Hungary was the last state to give consent for Sweden’s membership to NATO through its parliament. A meeting between Hungary’s Prime Minister Victor Orban and Sweden’s Prime Minister Ulf Kristerson ironed out the differences between the two countries in advance. Hungary sealed the deal by four Grabs-to order fighter planes from Sweden. Hungary’s opposition to Sweden’s membership stemmed from Sweden’s negative establishment of Hungary as a quasi-dictatorship where human rights are suppressed. Furthermore, Orban also blames the Swedish Christian Democrats, of which Kristerson is a part, for having worked for Orban’s conservative Fidesz party from the faction of the European People’s Party in the European Parliament.

In the meeting between the two leaders, a consensus was reached that two countries can differ on domestic affairs and worldview, but still cooperate on international affairs. Orban emphasized that Hungary sees itself as a Christian country in the tradition of Western civilization and as a state for a specific people, namely the Hungarians. Sweden, on the other hand, is and has always been a pronounced liberal country where tolerance is elevated to the highest virtue. Specifically, it concerns the issue of the homosexual agenda, which was a point of contention between the two countries. Homosexuality itself is not banned in Hungary, but its marketing to minors is. Sweden interpreted this as discrimination against homosexuals.

The two countries also differ on migration. While Hungary, especially with the refugee wave in 2015, actively and sometimes harshly stopped migrants at the border, Sweden welcomed them with open arms. Meanwhile, Sweden regrets its attitude at the time, because the country is already paying a high price for it with rising crime and social problems. This also gave rise to a change of government from the left-wing bloc to a centre-right coalition, which also acts more strictly against migrants.

The two countries also differ on the issue of the war in Ukraine. For Sweden, which has prided itself on its neutrality for centuries and has stayed out of the great wars of the modern era, Russia’s attack on Ukraine has startled the country and made it reconsider its neutrality. Hungary, on the other hand, although anchored in the Western bloc, still tries to maintain an understanding with Russia and is also heavily dependent on this country in terms of energy.

Sweden does add value to NATO. The country has a relatively small army in terms of the number of soldiers, but with modern weapons that are also partly produced in Sweden itself. In addition, the country has a long coastline along the Baltic Sea, through which Russia can be contained. At the same time as Sweden, Finland also applied for membership in NATO. In Finland, there was relatively little opposition and the country has been a member of NATO since last year.