Tuesday 10/26/21

Swedish foreign policy statement criticized for ignoring NATO option, unlike Finland

In December a majority of centre-right Swedish lawmakers said "Sweden should, like Finland, state that it is in favour of having a 'NATO option,'" referring to the defence alliance.

HANDOUT - 21 September 2020, Belgium, Brussels: NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg (R) meets with Finnish Foreign Affairs Minister Pekka Haavisto at the NATO headquarters. Photo: NATO/dpa.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg (R) meets with Finnish Foreign Affairs Minister Pekka Haavisto at NATO headquarters. Photo: NATO/file photo.

Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde was criticized on Wednesday for failing to mention that a parliamentary majority wants an option to seek membership of NATO when she presented the government's foreign policy statement.

Sweden's decision not to be member of any military alliance has served the country well "and contributes to stability and security in northern Europe," Linde said in the statement to parliament.

"It requires an active, broad and responsible foreign and security policy combined with enhanced defence cooperation – particularly with Finland – and credible national defence capabilities," she added.

"The security situation in Sweden's neighbourhood and in Europe has deteriorated over time," Linde said, adding that Sweden was investing more in its military.

She also underlined the European Union's role as "Sweden's most important foreign and security policy arena."

However, in December a majority of centre-right Swedish lawmakers said "Sweden should, like Finland, state that it is in favour of having a 'NATO option,'" referring to the defence alliance.

No previous consultation

"Why does the government insist on saying that the security policy stance remains the same despite not having support in parliament?" Kerstin Lundgren of the Centre Party asked Linde.

The foreign minister countered that parliament's decision was not preceded by consultation with the government, which comprises Linde's Social Democrats and the Greens.

Hans Wallmark, of the main opposition Moderate Party, said the government should invite other parties to discuss the NATO option.

He also criticized Linde for failing to mention among others Dawit Isaak, a Swedish-Eritrean journalist who has been imprisoned in Eritrea without trial for almost 20 years, in the statement.

Swedish foreign policy statement criticized for ignoring NATO option, unlike Finland
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