Sweden’s ruling party to reveal its stance on NATO
Sweden’s ruling party will reveal its stance on NATO membership on May 15, three days after a similar move is expected to be taken by Finland, Social Democrats’ Secretary-General Tobias Baudin said on Monday.
Amid the ongoing Russian military offensive in Ukraine, both countries have seen a dramatic change in public opinion, with the majority of the population now supporting joining the US-led bloc, according to polls. This prompted authorities in both countries to reconsider their longstanding non-alignment policy.
Speaking to the press, Baudin confirmed that the party decided to move forward its announcement from the end of the month to May 15 because it does not see any point in waiting.
“We do not see that this week will provide any new knowledge,” he said, while admitting that “there are certainly those who are critical” within the party about joining the alliance.
Responding to questions on which direction the party is leaning to, Baudin explained that this is not the case when you just “tick yes or no” but rather a comprehensive assessment which takes into account many different issues.
“What the decision is going to be is not decided yet,” he said.
The Social Democrats’ secretary-general also made it clear that his party wants to “keep up” with Finland as the neighboring countries share the same security and foreign policy concerns related to the potential membership bid.
Swedish parliamentary parties are now conducting an overview of its security policy and are expected to complete their analysis on May 13 leaving time for the government to look into the lawmakers’ conclusions.
“I want to have that on the table before I make a decision,” Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson said on Sunday.
Finland’s President Sauli Niinisto, meanwhile, is expected to formally announce the government’s position on joining NATO on May 12. According to the Finnish newspaper Iltalehti which first broke the news a week ago, “the position is that Finland is applying for membership.” The parliament is reportedly expected to give its approval as well.
On May 6, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki reassured Sweden and Finland that the United States will be able to find ways “to address any concerns either country may have about the period of time between a NATO membership application and the formal accession to the alliance,” apparently referring to concerns of potential retaliatory measures from Russia voiced by the Swedish and Finnish officials.
In early April, the head of the military alliance, Jens Stoltenberg, said NATO “will warmly welcome” Finland and Sweden if they apply to join, and is prepared to make a decision on membership “quite quickly.”
Russia considers the further expansion of NATO to be a direct threat to its own national security, and “for the whole architecture of security.” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov warned in April that Moscow would “take additional measures” to make its defenses on the Western flank “more sophisticated” if Finland and Sweden join the bloc.