Moderates drop Nato demand

Sweden’s Moderate Party will not try to take Sweden into Nato if it wins September’s election, leader Fredrik Reinfeldt has said.

Speaking at a conference in Sälen, Reinfeldt made it clear that the party still believed in Nato membership for Sweden. But opposition to the move, not least from other parties in the centre-right Alliance, meant that there was no point in the Moderates trying to push the issue.

Laila Freivalds, foreign minister in the Social Democratic government, had minutes earlier pointed to disunity in the Alliance on the Nato question.

The Alliance launches its foreign policy proposals on Tuesday, and the document will not propose Nato membership. Reinfeldt says that a broad consensus would be required to take Sweden into the organisation, and that a narrow majority would not suffice, implying that even the Social Democrats would need to be in favour. He added that Sweden should join at the same time as Finland.

But, said Reinfeldt, “Sweden ought to be involved in some kind of international partnership.” The main issue was the country’s influence.

The Moderate leader pointed out several times that there are “more Swedish soldiers serving under the Nato flag than under the UN flag.”

Reinfeldt admitted that the Alliance’s foreign policy document will hold few surprises. Freivalds accused the four parties of being more split than ever on major political questions. Their answers on foreign policy questions were evasive, she said.

On the specific question of Nato membership, Freivalds repeated the Social Democrats’ long-held opposition to joining.

“We see no reason to join. Freedom from military alliances gives us independence and the possibility to participate in all sorts of international partnership for peace,” she argued.

Freivalds, who spoke before Reinfeldt, also criticised a suggestion by Reinfeldt that money from the foreign aid budget could be used for “measures that create security.” In this context, he mentioned environmental clean-ups and healthcare, rather than military action.

Both Reinfeldt and Freivalds said pointed to energy resources as a probable future source of conflict. The conflict between Russia and Ukraine was discussed by both.

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