Swedish PM Says NATO Membership Would 'Destabilise Security Situation in Europe'
A recent survey has indicated that a historic plurality of Swedes favour joining NATO for the first time, although the debate has been lingering for decades.
A Swedish application for NATO membership is not relevant under current circumstances, Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson has stated at a press conference.
“If Sweden were to choose to submit a NATO application in this situation, we would further destabilise the situation in Europe,” Andersson said, as quoted by national broadcaster SVT.
Andersson refused to comment on the information from the Finnish newspaper Iltalehti that currently non-aligned Sweden and Finland seek the status of “major non-NATO ally” within the bloc.
The prime minister emphasised that Sweden has “deeply integrated” defence co-operation with its eastern neighbour Finland. At the same time, Andersson refused to answer how the Swedish government's view of NATO would change if Finland joined the defence alliance, a discussion that has flared up in Parliament following two citizens' initiatives within less than a fortnight.
Both have reached the required number of signatures in less than a week, under the pretext of Finland formally lacking security guarantees. Unlike the previous initiative, the recent endeavour is not a legislative initiative, but a straightforward requirement.
However, Magdalena Andersson said it was a “hypothetical question”.
“There is a discussion in Finland, we all know that and we follow it very closely. That is why we have very close contacts with Finland”, Andersson said, as quoted by SVT.
In a late February survey by pollster Novus, a historic plurality of Swedes were in favour of NATO membership for the first time. Wholly 41 percent of Swedes appeared to support accession to the bloc, whereas 35 percent said they were against and 24 percent were undecided.
At the same time, Andersson condemned Russia's special operations to demilitarise and de-Nazify Ukraine in support of the Donbass People's Republics, which has been going on since 24 February, as “brutal, indiscriminate and illegal warfare” and underscored that deliveries of military equipment from Sweden to Ukraine have been completed. She also emphasised that her government was investigating further opportunities to support Ukraine, among other things to strengthen its resilience to cyber attacks.
Sweden's decision to help Ukraine with munitions was also historic, as the Nordic country agreed to send arms to a conflict zone for the first time since the Winter War of 1939. In a survey by newspaper Expressen and pollster Sifo, merely 39 percent of Swedes said their country should assist Ukraine with weapons.
The Russian factor has in recent years played a key role in the NATO debate in Sweden, with proponents of the alliance emphasising and exaggerating the “Russian threat” as a pretext for increasing defence allotments and ultimately joining the bloc.