Sweden and Finland accelerate the process to apply for NATO entry in the summer
Unthinkable two months before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, now possible and even probable: Finland enters this Wednesday in the decisive phase of its possible candidacy for NATO, with the forecast of presenting it for its final vote at the summit that the Atlantic Alliance celebrates in Madrid at the end of June. A discussion that its neighbor Sweden poses in similar terms.
Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin believes that it is time for Finland to seriously reconsider its position on NATO. “Russia is not the neighbor we thought it was,” she said over the weekend, urging that the decision be made “thoroughly but quickly.” “We will have very careful discussions, but we will not take more time than necessary,” she said last Friday.
The government of Helsinki presents in Parliament this Wednesday a “white book” on the country’s security, which must be published by the government of the Nordic country, to draw the consequences of the new face of the Russian neighbor. Commissioned in early March, the strategic review is now due to be debated in a national debate that will last for several weeks, starting next Wednesday. “I think we will have finished our discussion before the end of June,” predicted the young Social Democratic leader. Today Marin, together with his Swedish counterpart, has remarked: “Our process will be quite fast, it will be done in weeks”, at the same time that he has pointed out: “There are different perspectives to request (to) join NATO or not request it and we have to analyze them very carefully.
Among the deputies who have already made their position known in the event of a vote, a hundred are in favor of accession and only 12 against, out of a total of 200, according to the scores made by the Finnish media.
I think we will have finished our discussion before the end of June
For more specificity, former Prime Minister Alexander Stubb told France Presse that “the candidacy will be presented sometime in May,” to facilitate a decision at the NATO summit on June 29 and 30 in Madrid. Finland has increased consultations in recent weeks with almost all 30 NATO members.
In Finland, the change in public opinion has been dramatic: polls now suggest an all-time high of 60% of Finns in favor of membership, double that of pre-war Ukraine. The last poll published on Monday even credits him with 68% for only 12% of unfavorable opinions.
Sweden: radical change of position
In the case of its Swedish neighbor, the country obtained clear guarantees from the secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, that the door was open and obtained a lot of support, from the United States to Germany, passing through France or the United Kingdom. Sweden’s ruling Social Democratic Party, which has so far rejected NATO membership, is reviewing its international security policy with the intention of also running for office in June, according to party sources reported today by the Swedish newspaper. Svenska Dagbladet.
“I do not exclude NATO membership in any way,” Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson said a fortnight ago. She today strengthens her position and, regarding her party’s evaluation, she says: “We have to see what is best for Swedish security. The evaluation must be exhaustive but quick.” However, “we cannot rush into decisions”, she remarks without venturing to give a date for the presentation of her candidacy.
Assessment should be thorough but quick
“When Russia invaded Ukraine, Sweden’s security position changed fundamentally,” the Social Democrats said in a statement on Monday. The Social Democrats, the largest party in parliament and forming a one-party minority government, reaffirmed their no military alliance policy in November last year and their stance was so far the biggest obstacle to the country joining NATO. .
“For the Social Democrats in Sweden, changing their opinion (on NATO) is like changing their religion,” Stubb added. “And I’m not talking about going from Protestant to Catholic, I’m talking about going from Christian to Muslim.”
How has Moscow reacted? Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has waved the red flag of NATO enlargement to justify the invasion of Ukraine, faces a possible new additional 1,340-kilometre border with the Western military alliance. Moscow regularly threatens Helsinki and Stockholm with “serious political and military consequences” if they join forces, a warning repeated in recent weeks.
The Kremlin insisted on Monday that a possible accession of Finland and Sweden to the military alliance “will not bring stability to the European continent”, because “the alliance continues to be a tool aimed at confrontation”, assured its spokesman, Dimitri Peskov, in a conference of press.
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