Defence Minister quizzed on 'secret' Nato talks

The Local Sweden
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Defence Minister quizzed on 'secret' Nato talks

Sweden’s Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist has been asked to explain claims that his country has been holding “more or less secret” talks with Nato, in a meeting with the country’s Parliamentary Defence Committee.


The committee meeting is set to take place later on Wednesday and comes days after Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet reported that it had seen secret government documents suggesting that Sweden could get involved with a new elite Nato-linked force set to be deployed in the event of war in the Baltics.

The newspaper claimed that Sweden, which is not currently part of Nato’s political and military alliance, is considering joining JEF, a UK-led expeditionary force linked to Nato which follows the organisation's “standards and doctrines”.

Since then the leader of Sweden’s largest centre-right opposition party, Anna Kinberg Batra of the Moderates, has argued that she also believes the country’s Social Democrat-Green coalition has been taking Sweden “very close to the core of Nato cooperation” and doing this “more or less in secret”.

JEF is designed to help northern European countries respond rapidly to war, including missions on behalf of organizations such as the UN and Nato. But Sweden did not sign a Letter of Intent between Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, Norway, the UK and the Netherlands last year, when the neighbouring nations agreed to set up the force with a view to becoming operational before 2018.

However Svenska Dagbladet said last week that it had seen a memorandum, prepared in November 2014 by Mats Danielsson, the Swedish attaché in London, and titled ‘Orientation of JEF and requests for Swedish participation’.

But Sweden’s Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist quickly insisted that Sweden "has not received any formal invitation to contribute to JEF" and that there was "consequently no preparation going on in the Cabinet."

Sweden’s Social Democrat-led government has vowed not to join Nato. But it has moved to extend military cooperation with other neighbouring countries in recent months, in the face of rising tensions in the Baltic.

In April, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland and Iceland announced far-reaching plans which Hultqvist described as “a direct response to aggressive Russian behaviour”. Last week Sweden signed a new deal with Nato member Poland

A poll released earlier this month suggested that 41 percent of Swedes are in favour of seeking membership in the military defence alliance, 39 percent are against the idea and 20 percent are uncertain.


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