“The Swedish election does not change anything about the NATO application”

The Swedish election does not change anything about the NATO

Published: Less than 2 hours ago

NEW YORK. Sweden changes to a right-wing government, in the middle of the ongoing NATO application.

At the same time, Turkey pressures incoming Kristersson that “it is time to deliver” – and threatens to stop the process.

But NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg is not sleepless.

– The decision is firm, the Swedish election has not changed it, he says to Aftonbladet.

Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary General, stands surrounded by security guards and staff outside the UN headquarters in Manhattan.
In recent months, the Norwegian has tried to row ashore NATO membership for its two Nordic neighbors. But despite Turkish warnings to stop the process, Stoltenberg does not believe that the veto threats will materialize.

– I feel safe, he tells Aftonbladet.

– Now there are only two or three NATO countries left to ratify the application. And at this point, Sweden and Finland are already fully participating in NATO; military and political. Several countries have also given security guarantees, and we have increased the military presence in the region. Sweden is in a better security policy situation than before they applied for membership.

full screen The NATO chief is in New York. Photo: Pontus Hššk / NTB

In the next few days, Stoltenberg will participate in UN week in New York, where 150 heads of state and government representatives will speak and hold bilateral meetings.
Top of the agenda for world leaders: The war in Ukraine.
When Russia launched its invasion seven months ago, the focus on the NATO defense alliance increased, and Sweden and Finland decided to jointly apply for membership this spring. Then Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson (S) held the baton for Sweden.
Since then, an overwhelming majority of NATO member states have given the green light. Apart from Turkey – the only country that opposed Swedish NATO membership.

The new government

A week ago it was clear that Sweden had voted for a new right-wing government, under the leadership of the Moderates’ Ulf Kristersson.
Turkey’s foreign minister commented on the Swedish government change by saying that it is “time to deliver” regarding the demands Erdogan made in June.

full screen A week ago it was clear that Sweden had voted for a new government, under the leadership of the Moderates’ Ulf Kristersson. Photo: Lotte Fernvall/Aftonbladet

According to Turkey, Sweden has become a haven for terrorists, and is pressuring Sweden to extradite Swedish citizens they consider to be terrorist suspects, something that is unlikely to happen. Otherwise, they may stop Sweden’s NATO process.

Here, Stoltenberg is attempting a difficult diplomatic balancing act.
He refers to the agreement signed in Madrid last summer, after long talks with Magdalena Andersson, Turkish President Erdogan and Finnish President Niinistö.
– It says about the extradition of people suspected of terrorism – it also clearly states that it must take place according to Swedish law and law. Swedish principles of the rule of law apply. That is the agreement Sweden and Turkey have agreed on, and I think that is good.

Meanwhile, Turkey continues to press the new government to live up to the extradition demands, saying it is urgent. How should that disagreement be resolved?
– Cooperating more closely against terror is important and good. So I am happy that Sweden, Finland and Turkey have stepped up that cooperation. I am confident that the agreement will result in Turkey finally accepting membership.
That Sweden changes government, in the middle of a critical period, before NATO membership is fully approved, he does not believe will be a problem.
– There has been broad political agreement in Sweden to apply for NATO membership, which is well anchored in the Riksdag. Therefore, I am sure that a new Swedish government will continue with the same NATO policy.

full screen “The decision is firm, the Swedish election has not changed it,” says Stoltenberg to Aftonbladet. Photo: AP

In Sweden, it has been debated how much influence the Sweden Democrats can have in the new government. How do you think their policies will affect NATO membership?

– NATO is an alliance that consists of 30 democracies, with different governments – both on the right and on the left. NATO’s strength is that, despite those differences, we come together to defend and protect each other.
The leader of the largest party in the right-wing bloc, the Sweden Democrats’ Jimmie Åkesson, has also been deported from Turkey since 2020, after a campaign in which he distributed flyers to refugees stating that “Sweden is full” at the Greek-Turkish border.
Nor does Stoltenberg think that will lead to turbulence for NATO cooperation.

– The NATO countries have different opinions on many issues. It has never been the case that we agree on everything – on the contrary, there is a lot of disagreement. But we gather around the most important thing.