Defense alliance: Sweden’s parliament votes to join NATO

Status: 22.03.2023 6:18 p.m

With a clear majority, the Swedish parliament voted in favor of the country joining NATO. Now the ratification of two members of the defense alliance is still missing.

The Swedish parliament voted for the country to join NATO. After a debate in Stockholm, a clear majority of MPs voted to give up Sweden’s decades of non-alignment in favor of NATO membership. This requires two changes in the law.

Of the MPs present, 269 voted in favor of accession, 37 against. Only two of the eight parties in the Swedish parliament – the Left and the Greens – are opposed to joining.

Historic vote after years of non-alignment

“Membership in NATO is the best way to ensure Sweden’s security,” said Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom during the deliberations. He spoke of a historic event and one of the most important security policy decisions for the country.

Regarding the timetable for Sweden’s accession, Billstrom said his country would be able to join in Vilnius, the site of the NATO summit in July. “The support we have is so tangible that I can make this assessment,” said the minister.

NATO member only after ratifications

Sweden can only become a NATO member once all 30 member states have ratified accession. 28 countries have already done so. Hungary and Turkey are still missing. However, Ankara is blocking Sweden’s admission to the alliance, on the grounds that Sweden is not acting consistently enough against “terrorist organizations”. The Turkish government has classified the Kurdish Workers’ Party PKK as a “terrorist organization”. She presented Sweden with a list of 120 suspects to be extradited. To settle the dispute, Sweden recently presented a draft for tougher terrorism laws.

Inclusion of Finland ahead of Sweden possible

Against the background of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine, Sweden applied with its neighbor Finland for NATO membership in May 2022. The two countries wanted to join the alliance together. Now Finland’s admission into the alliance could proceed more quickly. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he hopes Finland’s ratification will take place “before the May 14 elections” in Turkey. Hungary wants to vote on March 27 on the ratification of Finland’s accession.

The decision on Sweden’s accession, on the other hand, may not be taken by the Hungarian parliament until a later date. “If that actually happens, I think Hungary owes us an explanation,” said Sweden’s Foreign Minister Billström. The country was positive for Sweden’s accession and did not make any special demands like Turkey had done.

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