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Sweden’s ruling party plans NATO entry bid by June

Sweden’s ruling party plans NATO entry bid by June

2 min. 13.04.2022 From our online archive
A Finnish decision on a possible NATO application may also come “within weeks, not months”
Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson
Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson
Photo credit: Shutterstock

Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson said the Nordic nation is still analysing its security situation, declining to comment on media reports her party has decided to support a NATO entry bid. 

Speaking at a joint press conference Wednesday with her Finnish colleague Sanna Marin, Andersson reiterated the Swedish government is due to present a report in late May on its options following Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. She also said any future stance will include a continued close security alignment with Finland.

Newspaper Svenska Dagbladet reported earlier on Wednesday Andersson’s Social Democrats have reversed its opposition to NATO membership, seeking to apply for membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation by June, citing party sources it didn’t identify.

“We will continue our close coordination and cooperation, and we have to discuss different options, and no option is without risk,” Andersson said. “We want to analyse the situation to see what is best for Sweden’s security.”

Andersson’s party have long been a holdout in the debate on whether Sweden should join the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, officially opposing an entry and arguing that any application should have full or very large support in the parliament. 

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February pushed a potential NATO membership to the top of the agenda in Sweden and neighboring Finland. Russia has repeatedly warned both with potential consequences.

While support for a bid by the Social Democrats would secure majority backing for the bid in parliament, Andersson has indicated any application could require a 3/4 backing in the legislature, meaning other parties’ stances also bear weight. The largest opposition party, Moderates, have said they will campaign on that platform ahead of the general election in September and should they win, plan to file an application to join.

The Swedish NATO debate is closely tied to a parallel process in Finland, where political support for an application has also surged following Russia’s invasion. Finland’s government on Wednesday unveiled a white paper, which is likely to kick off an official process to join the alliance later this year.

Finland’s Sanna Marin did not give a timeline at the same news conference for when a Finnish decision on a possible NATO application may be announced, but said it “will be fast” and come “within weeks, not months.”

Andersson’s Social Democrats and several other parties in the parliament have argued Sweden shouldn’t join NATO before or without its Nordic neighbor Finland, as the two countries currently have a very tight defensive cooperation.

©2022 Bloomberg L.P.

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