Swedish premier meets with Hungarian counterpart ahead of final vote on its NATO bid

Swedish premier meets with Hungarian counterpart ahead of final vote on its NATO bid

BAKU, Azerbaijan, February 25. A positive atmosphere prevailed at a meeting of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban with his Swedish counterpart Ulf Kristersson held in Budapest just days before the Hungarian parliament's expected vote on Sweden's NATO bid on Monday, TurkicWorld reports.

At a joint news conference after the meeting with Kristersson, Orban said, "Today's meeting was a very important milestone in a long process of rebuilding trust."

He added that time is needed to rebuild the trust between the two countries, which has been damaged.

"Being NATO allies means that we are willing to die for one another. It is built on mutual respect. Taking that process at the appropriate pace has been wise," Orban emphasized.

Kristersson, for his part, said "We are both members of the EU and will soon be allies in NATO.”

Thanking Orban for the invitation to the meeting, he added, "We had a good conversation today on continued defense and security policy cooperation between our two countries."

Kristersson remarked that their talks on Friday were constructive and that cooperation would continue in areas where the two countries already have mutual understandings and interests.

Moreover, the Swedish prime minister announced that both countries have just signed a bilateral agreement to continue cooperation on the Swedish-made JAS 39 Gripen war jets, which Hungary leased in 2006.

The two leaders agreed that the leasing of the 14 jets will be extended for another decade beginning in 2026, with Hungary purchasing four more from Sweden.

Kristersson said the agreement would strengthen European security and benefit both countries.

He also praised Hungary for its contribution to NATO's Air Policing operation in the Baltic Sea, near Sweden.

On Tuesday, Hungary's ruling Fidesz party proposed holding a vote on Sweden's NATO membership bid next Monday.

Sweden must obtain the approval of 31 NATO member states before it can join.

Hungary remains the only NATO ally that has yet to approve Sweden's membership in the alliance after the Turkish parliament last month approved its application.

Sweden and Finland applied for NATO membership in May 2022 following the start of Russia's war on Ukraine earlier that year.