Sweden Ends 200-Year Neutrality, Joins NATO

Sweden Ends 200-Year Neutrality, Joins NATO

Sweden Ends 200-Year Neutrality, Joins NATO

After the end of a 20-month-long wait, Sweden has officially become the 32nd member of the NATO

In a historic moment for both Sweden and the NATO alliance, Sweden has officially become the 32nd member of NATO after nearly two years of anticipation. The ratification process was finalized in Washington, marking the end of a 20-month-long journey that began in May 2022 when Sweden submitted its application to join, spurred by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine earlier that year.

This move not only signifies a significant shift in Sweden’s national and international identity but also solidifies NATO’s control of the Nordic region.

The completion of the ratification process was celebrated at a ceremony attended by Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Blinken remarked, “Good things come to those who wait”, emphasizing the significance of the alliance. 

Kristersson expresses pride in Sweden’s decision to join NATO, stating, “We are humble, but we are also proud. Unity and solidarity will be a guiding light.”

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg congratulated Sweden on its membership, highlighting the importance of Sweden’s accession in strengthening NATO and enhancing security in the region.

The Swedish flag will be raised outside NATO HQ in Brussels symbolizing Sweden’s official entry into the alliance.

However, Sweden’s entry into NATO membership was not without challenges. The process was diplomatically complex, with the demands from Turkey and Hungary, regarding Sweden’s stance on the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and congressional approval issues related to arms sales.

Eventually, Turkey and Hungary, the last countries to ratify Sweden’s membership, gave their approval after months of delay paving the way for Sweden’s accession to NATO.

Sweden along with Finland which became a NATO member last year, departed from their longstanding military neutrality, a cornerstone hallmark of the Nordic states’ Cold War foreign policy after Russia invaded Ukraine in early 2022.

Other NATO allies also hailed this new association. “The most successful defensive alliance in history,” said British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, and Germany’s foreign ministry said of Sweden, “It’s good to know you are firmly by our side”.

This decision reflects the evolving geopolitical landscape and Sweden’s commitment to collective defense and security cooperation. Prime Minister Kristersson addressed concerns about Sweden’s NATO membership, emphasizing the importance of solidarity and cooperation in ensuring national security.

As Sweden integrates into NATO, the alliance wastes no time in involving Sweden in military exercises and cooperation efforts. The Nordic response military training exercise, which includes Sweden and Finland, commenced this week, involving thousands of soldiers.

Additionally, joint exercises such as the flyover of American bombers escorted by Swedish fighter planes demonstrate Sweden’s commitment to NATO cooperation.

Despite the significance of Sweden’s NATO membership, there are voices of dissent. Critics argue that NATO membership could lead to increased tension, polarization, and militarization. Organizations like the Swedish Peace and Arbitration Association (SPAS) express concern about Sweden aligning itself with the nuclear alliance and undemocratic countries.

However, supporters of NATO membership view it as an opportunity to enhance Sweden’s defense capabilities and ensure regional security. In a televised speech from the Swedish embassy in Washington Prime Minister Kristersson addressed the nation. Reaffirming Sweden’s commitment to NATO and emphasizing the importance of collective security. He assures skeptics that Sweden’s decision to join NATO was a natural progression towards strengthening national security.

As Sweden embarks on a new chapter as a NATO member, it faces both opportunities and challenges. Integration into NATO brings enhanced security cooperation and collective defense capabilities, but it also requires navigating complex geopolitical dynamics and balancing national interests with alliance commitments. Sweden’s accession to NATO marks a significant milestone in its history, signaling its shift towards greater engagement in international security affairs.

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