Hungary and Sweden agree defense agreement

As of: February 23, 2024 3:59 p.m

Hungary has long refused to agree to Sweden’s admission to NATO. Now both states are getting closer – also thanks to an arms and defense agreement.

Shortly before the final vote on Sweden’s accession to NATO, Hungary and Sweden agreed on a defense agreement. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and his Swedish colleague Ulf Kristersson agreed, among other things, to expand the Hungarian fighter jet fleet with machines made in Sweden.

Kristersson traveled to Budapest after repeated invitations from the Hungarian government. Orban had indicated that such a trip would be a prerequisite for Hungary’s consent to Sweden’s accession to NATO.

The defense agreement appeared to be a crucial point of rapprochement between the two governments. Orban has already indicated that the parliament in Budapest could pass Sweden’s NATO membership application next week. “The Hungarian Parliament will meet on Monday and take the necessary decisions.” This will “conclude one phase and usher in a new one.”

“Deep cooperation in the military sector”

At a press conference following the bilateral meeting, Kristersson said Sweden would sell four JAS 39 Gripen jets to Hungary, increasing its current fleet of 14 aircraft. Sweden will also expand support systems and services for the jets. He welcomes the deeper cooperation in the military area, said Kristersson.

Orban said the additional fighter jets would significantly increase the country’s military capabilities and further strengthen its role abroad. In addition, the ability to participate in joint NATO operations will be improved.

International pressure on Budapest grew

The support of all NATO members is required for the admission of new countries. Hungary is the only one of the 31 members of the alliance that has not yet agreed. Hungary’s allies in NATO and the European Union had recently put increasing pressure on Budapest to give up its resistance to Sweden’s accession.

Last weekend, a bipartisan group of US senators visited Hungary and announced a joint resolution in the US Congress. It then condemns democratic regression in Hungary and calls on the government to immediately lift its block on the Swedish application.

Today Orban said that although Hungary and Sweden do not agree on all issues, building trust is an essential prerequisite for his country to support Sweden’s entry into the alliance. “Being a member of NATO together with another country means that we are ready to die for each other,” he said.

In May 2022, traditionally non-aligned Sweden applied for membership in the Western military alliance together with its neighboring country Finland in response to the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine. Finland was able to join NATO in April 2023, while Sweden had to wait due to the blockades by Turkey and Hungary. Ankara gave the green light for Swedish accession at the end of January.

Wolfgang Vichtl, ARD Vienna, tagesschau, February 23, 2024 5:16 p.m

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