Swedish opposition party may change stance on NATO — RT World News
The leader of the Swedish Democratic Party is said to be in favor of joining the Western military bloc if neighboring Finland pursues membership.
A key opposition party in Sweden is expected to seek to change its stance on whether the country should join NATO if neighboring Finland applies, potentially clearing the way for legislation calling called for an end to the country’s history of military neutrality.
The leader of the Swedish Democratic Party Jimmie Akesson told the Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet on Saturday that he was considering changing his stance on NATO membership in the wake of Russia’s attack on Ukraine. If Finland seeks to join the Brussels-based coalition, he said he would recommend his party’s supporters do the same.
If Finland does apply, Akesson says, “Then my ambition was to go to the party council with a request that we change our mind. What has changed now is that Finland is very clearly moving towards NATO membership, and there are many signs that this could happen in the near future. That, and the fact that Ukraine, which is not a NATO member, is completely alone, has turned me around.”
The Swedish Democratic Party is the country’s second-largest opposition party, and its shift in stance toward NATO is likely to generate a parliamentary majority in favor of joining the Western bloc. Most residents of Sweden and Finland previously opposed joining NATO, but polls show that public opinion has changed dramatically since Russia launched its military operation in Ukraine in February.
The Finnish government is expected to give the country’s parliament a review of the possibility of joining NATO later this month. Sweden and Finland may be welcome to join the alliance in a “The relatively fast way” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said last week if they choose to apply for membership.
Although they are EU members, Sweden and Finland have stayed out of NATO, maintaining their military neutrality. Sweden has avoided wars since 1814, a generation after its last costly battle with Russia. Finland shares a 1,340 km (832 mi) land border with Russia and has remained neutral since the end of World War II.
While the Ukraine crisis has prompted Sweden and Finland to rethink their NATO status, joining the alliance could pose more risk of conflict with Russia than less. Moscow argues that NATO undermined Russia’s national security by breaking its promise against eastward expansion after the end of the Cold War in 1991.
Ukraine’s attempt to join the alliance raised security concerns, contributing to the decision to invade. NATO has expanded to 30 members from 16 since the end of the Cold War, extending its reach to Russia’s doorstep.