Sweden joins NATO, ending centuries of neutrality

Sweden officially joined NATO as its 32nd member on March 7, 2024. The decision came almost two years after the country first applied to join the military alliance. The Swedish government held an extraordinary meeting to vote on joining NATO after receiving approval from all current members. The news was confirmed with a statement from NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, who welcomed Sweden's accession.

The decision to join NATO marked a significant shift in Sweden's previous policy of military nonalignment. The country first applied to join the alliance in May 2022, following Russia's invasion of Ukraine. The ongoing conflict in Ukraine prompted both Finland and Sweden to seek membership in NATO for security reasons.

Finland became an official member of NATO in April the previous year, also in response to Russia's actions in Ukraine. Both Helsinki and Stockholm decided that they were no longer safe on their own and applied to join the alliance. The process of Sweden's accession to NATO was delayed by Hungary and Turkey, with both countries voting in favor of it in 2024.

Hungary's governing party initially opposed Sweden's NATO membership due to criticism of Hungary's democracy. However, the prime ministers of both countries committed to working through their differences. Turkey, on the other hand, had concerns about Sweden's tolerance of groups viewed as security threats and anti-Muslim protests in Sweden that strained relations.

Overall, Sweden's accession to NATO was seen as a strengthening of the alliance and a step towards enhancing security in the region. The decision highlighted the changing geopolitical landscape in Europe and the importance of collective defense in the face of evolving threats.


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