Neutral Sweden to host Nato conference

Forty-six foreign ministers from Nato and its 20 partner countries are due to meet this spring in the Swedish ski resort of Åre. Twenty-six of the foreign ministers due to attend represent countries already a part of Nato. Part of this representation includes Germany’s Joschka Fischer, Britain’s Jack Straw, and U.S.’s Condoleezza Rice, recently named the most powerful woman in the world. Sweden’s foreign minister Laila Freivalds will attend and Göran Persson, Sweden’s prime minister, is likely to be present.

The final decision to hold the meeting at Åre on May 24-May 25, will be made by Nato’s general secretary Jaap de Hoop Scheffer. However, the decision is practically finalized, as Nato already asked Sweden last year if it would like to host the meeting. In addition, Åre is seen as an ideal location, as it has new conference facilities and great views. Åre has already been inspected by a delegation from Nato, receiving positive reviews.

Sweden will have to prepare for its largest security force ever to properly protect against possible attacks by terrorists and extremists. Säpo, Sweden’s security service, will be in charge of the forces. There will also be additional security from other countries. The security forces combined with administrative personnel and foreign ministers brings the total to over a thousand people due to visit the small ski town.

As news of the meeting emerged, Sweden also announced that it will take part in a Nato crisis management exercise on a strategic level. This exercise is on decision making and not a practical exercise using troops. Sweden and 8 other non-Nato countries will participate in the exercise. Sweden has participated in peacekeeping missions before, noteably working with Nato within the framework of Partnership for Peace (PFP), but not on a strategic level.

Sweden is working at a more intimate level with Nato than ever before, raising questions about whether Sweden will join in the long term. Yet any attempts to become an official member of the alliance would be certain to meet with strong opposition from many in Sweden’s ruling left-wing coalition.

Sources: Göteborgs Posten, Aftonbladet

Sharon Tomcko


Sweden’s right-wing parties agree to bring back Norlén as Speaker 

The four parties backing Moderate leader Ulf Kristersson as prime minister on Sunday announced that they had agreed to keep the current Speaker, Andreas Norlén in place, when the role is put to a vote as parliament opens on Monday.

Sweden's right-wing parties agree to bring back Norlén as Speaker 

The parties won a three-seat majority over the bloc led by the incumbent Social Democrats in Sweden’s general election on September 11th, and are currently in the middle of negotiating how they will form Sweden’s next government. 

Sweden’s parliament meets at 11am for the official installation of the 349 MPs for this mandate period. The votes for the Speaker and three Deputy Speakers are the first item on the agenda, after which the parties each select their parliamentary leaders and then vote on who should chair each of the parliamentary committees. 

READ ALSO: What happens next as parliament reopens? 

In a joint press release announcing the decision, the parties also agreed that the Sweden Democrats would be given eight of the 16 chairmanships the bloc will have of parliamentary committees in the next parliament, and that MPs for all four parties would back Julia Kronlid, the Sweden Democrats’ Second Deputy Leader, as the second deputy Speaker, serving under Norlén. 

In the press release, the parties said that Norlén had over the last four years shown that he has “the necessary personal qualities and qualifications which the role requires”. 

The decision to retain Norlén, who presided over the 134 days of talks and parliamentary votes that led to the January Agreement in 2019, was praised by Social Democrat leader Magdalena Andersson. 

Norlén, she said in a statement, had “managed his responsibilities well over the past four years and been a good representative of Sweden’s Riksdag.” 

The decision to appoint Kronlid was opposed by both the Left Party and the Green Party, who said that she supported tightening abortion legislation, and did not believe in evolution.

The Green Party’s joint leader Märta Stenevi said that her party “did not have confidence in Julia Kronlid”, pointing to an interview she gave in 2014 when she said she did not believe that humans were descended from apes.

The party has proposed its finance spokesperson Janine Alm Ericson as a rival candidate. 

The Left Party said it was planning to vote for the Centre Party’s candidate for the post second deputy Speaker in the hope of blocking Kronlid as a candidate.