• Sweden edition
 
Sweden Finland Defence Deal
'Sweden hasn't been neutral since 1995'
Photo: TT

'Sweden hasn't been neutral since 1995'

Published: 08 May 2014 17:21 GMT+02:00
Updated: 08 May 2014 17:21 GMT+02:00

The defence ministers of both Sweden and Finland signed an agreement on Tuesday to conduct a study aimed at ensuring stronger military ties. 
 
Sweden's and Finland's defence ministers, Karin Enström and Carl Haglund, inked the deal in Helsinki. The plan will enable both armed forces to have access to each other's military bases. 
 
Both Enström and Haglund said the deal would shore up the two nations' ability to deal with "crisis management". 
 
Neither made any direct mention of the recent crisis in Ukraine, although experts have argued that Russia's antics in the region may have accelerated the alliance. 
 
"This is no coincidence, but it could have happened even without it," Mike Winnerstig, a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of War Sciences (Kungliga Krigsvetenskapsakademien), told The Local on Thursday.
 
It's not a pact by any means, he said, but an insight into the possibility of forming mutual military units.
 
"The problem is the Swedish Armed Forces are very differently structured to Finnish and both have their own problems. In the case of Sweden it's a problem of quantity,"  Winnerstig added.
 
He pointed to Sweden's defensive manpower getting cut by 90 percent over the past 15 years - "quite a cut by any measure," he said. 
 
"It means we need more of almost everything to be able to defend ourselves. We can't defend ourselves any more against any kind of sophisticated military attack."
 
Sweden's defence capabilities have been under the microscope before. Early last year, the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, Sverker Göransson, said that Sweden’s scaled-back military meant Sweden could only defend itself for one week if it came under attack.
 
"Of course it's a concern," Winnerstig said.
 
"Especially now in terms of the Ukraine situation. But things are changing here. Fifteen years ago our decision makers said there is never going to be any more threat on Swedish territory in our lifetimes. They decreased the defence budget dramatically by zillions of Swedish kronor."
 
The result? At best, a few thousand readily available Swedish troops, the expert guessed.
 
Sweden's army is already almost fully compatible with Nato standards, more so than some Nato countries, Winnerstig pointed out, adding that Sweden had been part of Nato operations since the Bosnian war in the early nineties.
 
The problem is that Sweden is not at the decision-making table, he argued, adding that he has been a long-time advocate of Sweden joining Nato.
 
"For Sweden, the whole [neutrality] policy became an ideology in the seventies, especially for the Social Democrats and their leader Olof Palme.
 
"They became so enamoured with the policy of neutrality that they turned it into something else. It used to be a way to avoid being attacked, which was successful during the two world wars, but in the 70s and 80s and their political environments, neutrality became an ideology and part of Sweden's identity," he said.
 
"For most Social Democrats and several others today, being a Swede is being neutral no matter what. It doesn't matter if it's completely out of touch with reality. I mean, who are we going to be neutral against?"
 
Sweden formally discarded neutrality in 1995 when joining the EU anyway, he added.
 
"But the notion stayed in peoples' minds. They think that to join a military alliance, regardless of whether it's Nato or something else, is a bad thing to do. It's against our national identity."
 
Back in Helsinki, Haglund and Enström were keen to maintain that the renewed partnership was about peacetime stability. They said it also demonstrated a willingness to support each other in times of crisis. 
 
"The fact that we establish joint units and allow one another to use our airbases and ports conveys a strong message of our willingness to work together," said Haglund. 
 
The finer details of the agreement are still being ironed out with conclusions on the alliance to be released next January. 
 

Oliver Gee (oliver.gee@thelocal.se)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Ebola crisis
Sweden pledges new aid to UN Ebola fund
Photo: TT

Sweden pledges new aid to UN Ebola fund

Sweden has offered a new sizeable contribution to the fund set up by UN chief Ban K-moon to fight the Ebola outbreak. READ  

Society
'Dark forces' target refugee hunting scheme
Photo: Lars-Göran Thuresson/Älgriket

'Dark forces' target refugee hunting scheme

The Swedish hunting association runs a project to encourage young asylum-seekers to learn about hunting, a move which has proved controversial among some far right groups. READ  

Business & Money
American sales squeeze Ericsson profits
Ericsson CEO Hans Vestberg presents the third-quarter earnings report at the company's headquarters in Kista. Photo: Janerik Henriksson/TT

American sales squeeze Ericsson profits

Swedish telecoms equipment maker Ericsson reported a decline in net profit in the third quarter despite an increase in sales, boosted by business in emerging markets. READ  

Interview
'Too many concerts feel the same'
Sofar hosts secret gigs in Swedish apartments. Photo: Sofar

'Too many concerts feel the same'

Kattis Bjork founded Stockholm's secret gig scene - Sofar - a year ago. The Local caught up with her as she prepared to celebrate the project's anniversary this weekend and revealed the concept will spread to other Swedish cities in 2015. READ  

Stockholm 'sub hunt'
Sweden calls off suspect submarine search
Ships are returning to shore in Sweden. Photo: TT

Sweden calls off suspect submarine search

The core search for a suspected foreign vessel in Swedish waters has been called off. The armed forces said they remained convinced foreign underwater activity had taken place but had not identified an intruder. READ  

Business & Money
US and Japan fuel surge for Volvo trucks
Ed Carbaugh prepares to install parts on a truck engine on an assembly line at Volvo Trucks' powertrain manufacturing facility in Hagerstown, Maryland, March 2014. Photo: Patrick Semansky/AP

US and Japan fuel surge for Volvo trucks

Sweden's Volvo, the world's second-largest maker of trucks, said Friday it saw a spike in profits in the third quarter, boosted by thriving sales in the US and Japanese markets. READ  

Inspectors attacked at rogue doc’s surgery
Cigarettes and beer photo: Shutterstock

Inspectors attacked at rogue doc’s surgery

Inspectors who were sent to shut down a doctor’s surgery in Gothenburg were physically attacked and fled the premises to get help from the police. READ  

Police turn Swede’s vodka into water
A Swede loads a car with alcohol in northern Germany. File photo: Drago Prvulovic/TT

Police turn Swede’s vodka into water

Swedish police say they will pay a man 16,000 kronor ($2,200) in damages after much of the alcohol they confiscated from him was stolen, while many of the bottles they returned were filled with water. READ  

Diplomacy
US to get first female ambassador in Sweden
File photo: Athena Center for Leadership Studies

US to get first female ambassador in Sweden

The United States Embassy in Stockholm is set to get its first female ambassador after the White House announced it was nominating the Iranian-American ex-investment banker Azita Raji to take over from Mark Brzezinski. READ  

Neo-Nazi attacks
Neo-Nazis cleared of knife attack on Nigerian
Police intervene after neo-Nazis attack an anti-Nazi rally in Kärrtorp, December 2013. Photo: Hampus Andersson/TT

Neo-Nazis cleared of knife attack on Nigerian

A Stockholm court has cleared three neo-Nazis of stabbing a Nigerian man in an unprovoked attack. But two of the men will face jail after they were convicted of racial agitation at a riot. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Lifestyle
What's On in Sweden: October 24th - 31st
Gallery
People-watching: October 22nd
Gallery
In Pictures: Prince Carl Philip and Sofia Hellqvist
Lifestyle
Eight things to love about renting a Swedish apartment
National
Vasa ship cannon blasted in Sweden
Blog updates

24 October

Editor’s blog, October 24th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hi readers, Get ready to read our weekly digest of Swedish news in less than 60 seconds. The..." READ »

 

24 October

Is darkness weather? (Blogweiser) »

"I try very hard not to talk about the weather. This has come after a decade..." READ »

 
 
 
National
Sub hunt: Day-by-day
National
Sub hunt: Stockholm islanders share their fears with The Local
Sponsored Article
The best options for oversea transfers
National
Get 20% off unique Swedish homeware
National
Dentist gives free care to Roma beggars
Business & Money
Get your own office in Gothenburg or Stockholm - free for a day
Gallery
Property of the week: Malmö
Gallery
PHOTOS: 'Foreign activity' in Swedish waters
Gallery
People-watching: October 19th
TT
Society
QUIZ: How good is your Swedish?
Lifestyle
What's on in Sweden: October 17th - 24th
Society
The nudity... and nine other things expat men notice in Sweden
Gallery
People-watching: October 15th
Gallery
Your views: Should outdoor smoking be banned in Sweden?
Business & Money
Sweden has 'large hole' in finances
Sponsored Article
Introducing... Finding a job in Stockholm
Society
Monster salmon caught in northern Sweden
Gallery
Property of the week: Lorensberg
National
Scandinavia's child bride
National
Ebola crisis: How is Sweden preparing?
Business & Money
How Sweden is becoming a cashless society
Gallery
Stockholm Burlesque Festival 2014
National
How a little red horse became a symbol for Sweden
Gallery
People-watching: October 12th
Business & Money
The hottest start-ups from southern Sweden
National
What's on in Sweden: October 10th - 17th
National
Stockholm is 'best' region for well-being
Gallery
People-watching: October 8th
National
Five facts to know about Patrick Modiano
Society
My Swedish Career: A French fashionista in Sweden
Society
Swede's anti-bully Facebook tale goes viral
Society
Have you seen Sweden's viral subway cancer campaign?
National
Isis: Swedes linked to Turkish prisoner swap
National
Should Swedes be banned from buying sex abroad?
Gallery
Fredrik Reinfeldt's leaving presents
National
Five Swedish TV shows you shouldn't miss
Gallery
A tool belt, a casserole, and a book. Fredrik Reinfeldt's parliament gifts
TT
Lifestyle
Top five winter festivals in Sweden
TT
National
Sami reindeer herders win mine reprieve
Gallery
Property of the Week: Gamla Enskede
Sponsored Article
How to catch the first lobster of the year
Team SCA
Sponsored Article
All-female SCA team takes off on Volvo Ocean Race
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

985
jobs available
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions is an innovative business company which provides valuable assistance with the Swedish Authorities, Swedish language practice and general communications. Call 073-100 47 81 or visit:
www.swedishdowntown.com
PSD Media
PSD Media is marketing company that offers innovative solutions for online retailers. We provide modern solutions that help increase traffic and raise conversion. Visit our site at:
http://psdmedia.se
If you want to drink, that’s your business.
If you want to stop, we can help.

Learn more about English-language Alcoholics Anonymous in Sweden. No dues. No fees. Confidentiality assured.
AA-EUROPE.ORG/SWEDEN