Sweden has Finally Approved the Application for NATO

World | May 16, 2022, Monday // 18:17
Bulgaria: Sweden has Finally Approved the Application for NATO

The Swedish government has officially decided to apply for NATO membership, Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson said on Monday, calling on the country to end its non-alignment, which lasted throughout the Cold War and for more than 30 years.

The formal submission of the application will take place jointly with Finland - today, tomorrow, or on Wednesday.

The news from Stockholm was immediately welcomed by French President Emmanuel Macron. NATO members from Scandinavia, Norway, Denmark and Iceland, said in a joint statement that they were ready to support Sweden and Finland if there was an attack on their territory in the months leading up to the ratification of their membership.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said in Moscow that Russia had no problem with the two countries and that while considering their decision a mistake, there was unlikely to be any significant reaction until troops from other NATO countries were allowed into Swedish and Finnish territory. This is a well-known move aimed at dividing the alliance, tacitly supporting the creation of a second category of members.

Sweden's ruling Social Democrats withdrew their 73-year-old opposition to joining NATO on Sunday and are hoping for a quick accession after Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24th.

The decision to abandon military non-alignment, a fundamental principle of Sweden's national identity for two centuries, marked a major shift in public perception in Scandinavia following Russia's attack on its neighbor.

"Europe, Sweden and the Swedish people are now living in a new and dangerous reality," Andersson said during a debate on security policy in parliament on Monday. However, she said Sweden does not want permanent NATO military bases or nuclear weapons on its territory if its membership is approved.

There is widespread support in parliament for the candidacy, although the government does not need its approval to continue the procedure. Finland also confirmed on Sunday that it will apply to join the Atlantic military alliance.

An obstacle has already emerged before applications arrive at NATO headquarters in Brussels. Turkey surprised its NATO allies by saying it would not take a positive view of Finland's and Sweden's statements, citing mainly the admission of members of Kurdish armed groups in the two countries and bans on the sale of some weapons to Turkey.

Defense Minister Peter Hultqvist said on Monday that Sweden would launch diplomatic discussions with Turkey to try to overcome Ankara's objections to its plan to join NATO. "We will send a group of diplomats to hold discussions and dialogue with Turkey to see how this can be resolved and what it is really about," Hultqvist told public television SVT.

Turkish state media reported separately that Sweden and Finland have rejected requests to repatriate 33 people Turkey claims to have links to groups it considers terrorists.

NATO and the United States have said they are confident Turkey will not retain membership of Finland and Sweden. Any decision to join NATO requires the approval of all 30 members of the alliance and their parliaments. Diplomats said Erdogan would be under pressure to back down as Finland and Sweden significantly strengthen NATO in the Baltic Sea.

"I am confident that we will be able to address the concerns that Turkey has expressed in a way that does not delay membership," NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Sunday.

Sweden's parliamentary debate has given the two parties still opposed to NATO membership a chance to express their concerns. "The decision ... to join a union with nuclear weapons and authoritarian regimes is made without the participation of voters," said left-wing party leader Nooshi Dadgostar. "There are other ways to keep Sweden safe."

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