Timeline Of Sweden's Bid To Join The Nato Alliance

Sweden's Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson speaks on the phone as he receives information that Hungary's parliament has voted yes to ratify Sweden's NATO accession, at the government headquarters in Stockholm, Sweden, on Monday Feb. 26, 2024. (Magnus Lejhall/TT News Agency via AP)
Sweden's Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson speaks on the phone as he receives information that Hungary's parliament has voted yes to ratify Sweden's NATO accession, at the government headquarters in Stockholm, Sweden, on Monday Feb. 26, 2024. (Magnus Lejhall/TT News Agency via AP)
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STOCKHOLM (AP) — Hungary's parliament approved Sweden's application to join NATO on Monday, paving the way for the Scandinavian country to become the alliance's 32nd member.

Hungary was the last holdout after Turkey agreed to Sweden's accession in January. Newcomers need to be approved by all existing NATO members.

Once neutral Sweden and neighboring Finland decided to seek NATO membership after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. While Finland joined in April of last year, Sweden was kept waiting as both Turkey and Hungary held up the process.

Here are some of the key events on Sweden’s path to becoming a member of NATO.

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Feb. 24, 2022: Russia invades Ukraine after a monthslong buildup of troops. In both Sweden and Finland, support for NATO membership grows, but Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson rules out joining the alliance, saying it would raise tensions in the region.

May 15, 2022: Andersson's Social Democrats reverse course, saying Sweden would be better off joining NATO together with Finland.

May 18, 2022: The Swedish and Finnish governments hand their official letters of application to NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg. The move has the backing of a clear majority of lawmakers in the Swedish Parliament.

June 28, 2022: Sweden, Finland and Turkey sign a deal at a NATO summit in which the two Nordic countries agree to support Turkey against Kurdish militants in Turkey and Syria. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan earlier accused Finland and Sweden of being too soft on militant groups that Turkey sees as threats to its national security.

July 5, 2022: Canada, Iceland, Norway and Denmark are the first NATO members to approve the two newcomers. By the end of September, all members have ratified Sweden and Finland's accession, except Turkey and Hungary.

Oct. 18, 2022: A center-right coalition government takes office in Sweden after winning a parliamentary election. The new prime minister, Ulf Kristersson, vows to continue pressing for NATO membership.

March 22, 2023: Swedish lawmakers formally approve joining NATO. The decision authorizes the government to join the organization once all NATO members have ratified Sweden's entry.

April 4, 2023: Finland becomes NATO’s 31st member after receiving the green light from Turkey and Hungary. However, both countries delay their decisions on Sweden.

June 1, 2023: A new anti-terrorism law takes effect that is at least partially aimed at addressing Turkish concerns that Sweden needs to take concrete steps to crack down on militant groups that have carried out attacks in Turkey.

July 10, 2023: At a NATO summit in Lithuania, leaders say that Erdogan has promised to send Sweden’s accession documents to the Turkish parliament for approval.

Sept. 11, 2023: Kristersson's government says it wants to increase its defense budget by 28%, putting it on track to reach the military spending target of 2% of gross domestic product set by the NATO alliance.

Oct. 23, 2023: Erdogan submits Sweden's application to the Turkish parliament for ratification.

Dec. 26, 2023: A Turkish parliamentary committee approves Sweden’s NATO membership bid.

Jan. 23, 2024: Turkey's parliament endorses Sweden's NATO application.

Feb. 18, 2024: A bipartisan delegation of U.S. senators makes an official visit to Hungary’s capital, calling on the government to immediately approve Sweden’s NATO request.

Feb 26, 2024: Hungary's parliament votes to ratify Sweden’s bid to join NATO.