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Sweden enters ‘new era’ with NATO bid

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Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson talks during the Parliamentary Debate on the Swedish application for NATO membership in Stockholm.

SWEDEN: Sweden decided Monday to seek NATO membership a day after the country’s governing Social Democratic party endorsed a plan for the country to join the trans-Atlantic alliance and Finland’s Government announced that it would seek to join NATO.

Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson warned that the Nordic country would be in a “vulnerable position” during the application period and urged her fellow citizens to brace themselves for the Russian response.

“Russia has said that that it will take countermeasures if we join NATO,” she said. “We cannot rule out that Sweden will be exposed to, for instance, disinformation and attempts to intimidate and divide us.”

Moscow has repeatedly warned Finland, which shares a 1,340-kilometre (830-mile) border with Russia, and Sweden of repercussions should they pursue NATO membership. But Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday seemed to downplay the significance of their move.

Andersson, who leads the center-left Social Democrats, said Sweden would hand in its NATO application jointly with Finland. Flanked by Opposition Leader Ulf Kristersson, Andersson said her Government also was preparing a bill that would allow Sweden to receive military assistance from other nations in case of an attack.

Once a regional military power, Sweden has avoided military alliances since the end of the Napoleonic Wars. Like Finland it remained neutral throughout the Cold War, but formed closer relations with NATO after the 1991 Soviet collapse. They no longer see themselves as neutral after joining the European Union in 1995, but have remained nonaligned militarily until now.

On Sunday, Andersson’s party reversed their long-standing position that Sweden must remain nonaligned, giving NATO membership overwhelming support in Parliament. Only the small Left and Green parties objected when the issue was discussed by lawmakers on Monday.

Left Party leader Nooshi Dadgostar, whose calls for a referendum on the matter were dismissed by the government, said joining NATO would raise tensions in the Baltic Sea region.

Andersson said Sweden would make clear that it doesn’t want nuclear weapons or permanent NATO bases on its soil — similar conditions as neighboring Norway and Denmark insisted on when the alliance was formed after World War II.

– THE BANGKOK POST

 

Wednesday, May 18, 2022 – 01:00











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