Sweden holds NATO vote

Lazy eyes listen


The Swedish parliament voted in favor of joining NATO on Wednesday, nearly a year after the Stockholm government applied for membership. The Riksdag passed the formal vote by a vote of 269 to 37, with 43 members abstaining.

After the vote, Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom tweeted, “Historical decision today as the Swedish Parliament votes yes to NATO membership.” “Sweden will be safer and more secure, and we will be the alliance’s security provider.”

The vote was largely ceremonial, as the government had decided to apply to NATO in May 2022, and NATO had approved the Accession Protocols in July of that year. However, before Sweden can join, all other members must ratify its application, which is far from certain.

Billstrom told the Riksdag ahead of the vote that it “goes without saying that we will be able to become members by Vilnius,” referring to the NATO summit in Lithuania in July.

However, this is contingent on Turkey withdrawing its objections. Ankara claims that Stockholm is still harboring several Kurdish “terrorists,” whom Sweden claims are activists granted asylum. Turkey has also demanded an apology for the symbolic burning of the Koran outside its embassy, which was justified by multiple Swedish officials as an exercise in free speech.

Billstrom contended that Turkey’s refusal would call into question “NATO’s open-door policy.” In refusing Russia’s comprehensive security proposal in January 2022, the US declared this notion non-negotiable.

Only the Greens and the Left Party (Vansterpartiet) voted against the motion. During a six-hour debate, Jakob Risberg of the Greens accused the government of wanting to “plunge Sweden into a nuclear alliance with a Turkish despot as a doorman.” According to his colleague Hakan Svenneling, Ankara used Sweden’s application “to silence our voice for democracy and human rights.”

The Swedish government cited the escalation of hostilities in Ukraine as justification for abandoning its long-standing neutrality policy. Sweden, once an imperial power in northern Europe, lost that status after losing the Great Northern War (1700-1721) to Russia, most notably at the battle of Poltava in modern-day Ukraine, and the last time its armies fought abroad was near the end of the Napoleonic Wars.