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MILITARY

Military service comes to an end in Sweden

Compulsory military service officially came to end in Sweden on Thursday after 109 years, setting the non-aligned nation on the path to developing a fully professional army.

Military service comes to an end in Sweden

Introduced in Sweden in 1901, military service had been winding down for several years, with only those expressing a wish to serve picked during for conscription.

Sweden remained neutral during the two world wars, but with the Soviet Union nearby, wanted to have the capacity to call in 500,000 soldiers at short notice during the Cold War, out of a population of about eight million at the time.

At the height of the East-West tensions, nearly 85 percent of Swedish men carried out military service, with some 50,000 conscripted out of an age group counting 60,000 men.

The numbers have fallen dramatically in recent years, with only an average of about 5,000 conscripted soldiers, including several hundred women since 1980, serving each year.

“The military service ends in Sweden as of today, It was really about time,” Sweden’s daily of reference Dagens Nyheter wrote in an editorial, insisting that with Cold War finished, obligatory military service was no longer needed.

“The obligatory military service had become both old-fashioned and ineffective,” it said.

The Aftonbladet tabloid however lamented the end of an era of social responsibility.

“There is good reason to fear that with the end of military service yet another level of collective conscience will disappear,” wrote Kennet Andreasson in an editorial.

“The connection between obligations and rights has become less and less clear,” he added.

Some of the country’s last conscripts received medals during an official ceremony at the royal palace on Wednesday.

The centre-right government decided last year to end military service, which on average had lasted about 11 months.

At the same time, it decided to loosen the country’s traditionally strict neutrality to allow participation in more international military operations, like the NATO-led mission in Afghanistan.

The Swedish military, which last year employed 34,000 people as well as 38,000 National Guard reserves, has in recent weeks been running a large recruitment campaign with television ads and large street billboards.

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NATO

Turkey forms ‘permanent committee’ to assess Swedish Nato deal

Turkey on Thursday said a new "permanent committee" would meet Finnish and Swedish officials in August to assess if the two nations are complying with Ankara's conditions to ratify their Nato membership bids.

Turkey forms 'permanent committee' to assess Swedish Nato deal

Finland and Sweden dropped their history of military non-alignment and announced plans to join Nato after Russia invaded Ukraine at the end of
February. All 30 Nato members must ratify the accession.

Nato member Turkey has demanded the extradition of dozens of suspected “terrorists” from both countries under an accession deal the three signed last month.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has threatened to “freeze” the process over Sweden and Finland’s failure to extradite the suspects.

He accuses them of providing a haven for outlawed Kurdish militants. “If these countries are not implementing the points included in the
memorandum that we signed, we will not ratify the accession protocol,” Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu reaffirmed in a televised interview.

He said the committee would meet in August but provided no details.Turkey’s parliament has broken for its summer recess and will not be able
to hold a ratification vote before October. Some Turkish officials have warned that the process may drag out until next year.

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