When the Secretary General of Nato, Jens Stoltenberg, visits Sweden, which is not a member of the alliance, the same questions are on everyone’s lips: could Sweden become a member of the alliance? In case of conflict, could NATO assist Sweden?
NATO membership will be a topic a debate during the next Parliamentary elections
First of all, the secretary general of Nato welcomed Sweden’s important contributions to Nato at the Folk och Försvar Security Conference in Sälen. The contributions include its participation in Nato missions in Afghanistan and Kosovo, and its regular contributions to Nato exercises. He also stressed the importance of the close cooperation with Nordic partners like Sweden helps to strengthen security in the region. According to a co-operation agreement, NATO troops will be allowed to operate more easily in the country in the event of a conflict.
Even if Jens Stoltenberg said Nato should not try to put pressure on countries when it comes to the question of membership, he warned that:
« We have a statutory obligation under international law to assist a member country. That same obligation does not extend to Sweden, » said Stoltenberg
But he also added that Sweden and Finland are the two non-member states who have the closest partnership with the military alliance.
NATO membership will be for sure a topic of debate during the next parliamentary elections in September 2018. According to the FT, although more Swedes are still against joining Nato than for, the four main centre-right opposition parties are for the first time in agreement that the country should seek Nato membership.
The potential Russian threat on Swedish elections
The Swedish government begins also to fear a possible meddling of Russia in the next election. Speaking at a security conference in Stockholm, Sweden’s Prime Minister Stefan Loefven said that the government is aware of the Kremlin’s efforts to influence the upcoming vote. The Swedish government plans to set up a counter-propaganda agency and will published in May a booklet “If Crisis or War Comes”. According to an article of the Financial Times, the booklet will deal with issues such as:
- How members of the public can take part in “total defence” during a war
- How to secure basic needs such as water, food and heating
- It will also cover other threats such as cyber-attacks, terrorism and climate change.