Hungarians Vote to Join NATO

Associated Press

Voters overwhelmingly accepted NATO’s invitation to membership Sunday in a show of support that the Hungarian government hopes will convince current alliance members that the cost of expansion is justifiable.

With 99.5% of the votes counted, election officials said 85.3% of the ballots supported NATO membership and that 14.7% were opposed. Nearly 50% of Hungary’s 8 million eligible voters participated, the National Election Center said.

“With Hungary joining NATO, a new era begins,” Prime Minister Gyula Horn said. “In this country, the people have never been asked before if they wanted to join a military bloc.”

Hungarian President Arpad Goncz thanked voters, saying over state television that the country’s membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization “will exclude the possibility of a great war” in unstable Central Europe.