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Today in Sweden: A roundup of the latest news on Monday

Find out what's going on in Sweden today with The Local's short roundup of the news in less than five minutes.

Today in Sweden: A roundup of the latest news on Monday
Greta Thunberg campaigning with members of the Sami community in Jokkmokk, northern Sweden. Photo: Carl-Johan Utsi/TT

Four Swedes die in avalanche

Four Swedish men in their 40s died in an avalanche in Spiss, Austria, near the Swiss border, on Friday, the Swedish foreign ministry confirmed on Saturday morning.

They were all skiing off-piste when the avalanche happened. A major helicopter rescue effort was launched and one of the men was found alive, but his life could not be saved.

They lived in the Svealand and Götaland regions of Sweden, reports the TT newswire.

Swedish vocabulary: an avalanche – en lavin

Record number of parents ‘vabbed’ in January

Last month, parents in Sweden sent in 466,000 applications to the Social Insurance Agency for “vab” benefits to stay home from work and care for a sick child.

The figure is the highest ever for January, reports the Arbetet news site – although it’s not a huge increase on the previous January record (451,000) which was set in 2019 before the pandemic.

Swedish vocabulary: a child – ett barn

Warning of extremists targeting Swedish social services

Swedish authorities warn of an online disinformation campaign that targets Arabic speakers. According to the Swedish Psychological Defence Agency, it can be traced to a site which claims that the Swedish social services kidnap the children of Muslims.

Swedish news agency TT reports that the man behind the site, who has expressed support for the militant extremist Islamic State group, does not live in Sweden.

TT reports that certain people in Sweden, whom the Swedish security police consider to be security risks, have been active in the debate and named social services officials.

Swedish vocabulary: to warn – att varna

Sweden to lift nearly all Covid-19 measures this week

Sweden is set to lift almost all Covid-19 restrictions and recommendations on Wednesday. The ones that will remain include that if you have symptoms, you should stay home and avoid close contact with others, and unvaccinated adults should at all times avoid crowded spaces and large crowds indoors – and everyone who is eligible for the Covid-19 vaccine is still strongly urged to get all their doses of the vaccine.

We want to hear how you, our readers, feel about the end of restrictions and the past two years of the pandemic. To have your say, click HERE to fill out The Local’s survey.

Swedish vocabulary: to avoid – att undvika

Greta Thunberg protests against Sweden iron mine on Sami land

Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg took the Fridays for Future climate strike to northern Sweden over the weekend, as she joined a demonstration by the indigenous Sami community to protest against a possible iron ore mine at Kallak. The government is next month to decide whether to greenlight the controversial project led by UK firm Beowulf, which has promised to create 250 to 300 jobs.

“We believe that the climate, the environment, clean air, water, reindeer herding, indigenous rights and the future of humanity should be prioritised above the short-term profit of a company,” Thunberg said in an English-language video message.

“The Swedish government needs to stop the colonisation of Sapmi,” she added.

Swedish vocabulary: humanity – mänsklighet

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Today in Sweden: A roundup of the latest news on Monday

Nato, Nato, and more Nato: Find out what's going on in Sweden with The Local's roundup.

Today in Sweden: A roundup of the latest news on Monday

Sweden’s defence minister: Nato decision to be taken today

Sweden’s government will meet later on Monday to take the historical decision to join Nato, the country’s defence minister Peter Hultqvist, has told state broadcaster SVT. 

“I can’t say exactly when the application will be sent in, but the decision is going to be taken today,” he said. 

Turkey have voiced their opposition to Sweden and Finland joining the alliance.

Hultqvist said that Sweden was sending a group of civil servants to discuss Turkey’s objections to Swedish Nato membership — something Nato Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Sunday would not prevent Sweden joining the alliance. 

“We are going to a send a group of civil servants who are going to carry out a discussion and have a dialogue with Turkey, so then we’ll see how the issue can be solved and what the discussion is actually about. But the signals we’ve had from Nato are that there’s unanimity that both Sweden and Finland should join.” 

Swedish Vocab: avgör – to decide 

Sweden’s ruling Social Democratic Party backs Nato bid

Sweden’s ruling Social Democratic Party on Sunday said it was in favour of joining Nato, reversing its decades-long opposition and paving the way for the country to submit a membership application.

The turnaround comes amid soaring political and public support in Sweden for joining the Western military alliance after Russia’s February 24th invasion of Ukraine.

The issue has divided Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson’s Social Democrats, with some party members expressing concern that the decision was being rushed through.

The party said on Sunday that if Sweden’s application were approved, it would work to express “unilateral reservations against the deployment of nuclear weapons and permanent bases on Swedish territory.”

Swedish vocab: att vara orolig – to be worried/concerned

Finland confirms it will apply to join Nato as Sweden set to follow

Finland’s President Sauli Niinistö confirmed on Sunday that his country would apply for Nato membership as Sweden’s ruling party was to hold a decisive meeting that could pave the way for a joint application.

The announcement came after Niinistö and Prime Minister Sanna Marin said on Thursday they both favoured Nato membership, in a major policy shift prompted by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“Today, we, the president and the government’s foreign policy committee, have together decided that Finland … will apply for Nato membership,” Finnish President Sauli Niinistö said at a joint press conference with Prime Minister Sanna Marin in Helsinki on Sunday.

“I have great feelings, of course, this is an historic day. It started in the morning when I visited the memorial service to honour Finland’s fallen heroes”, Niinistö told reporters.

Niinistö said that the decision will secure Finland’s security policy and that it “does not disadvantage anyone”.

Sweden’s foreign minister Ann Linde said the decision would have “great significance” for Sweden.

Swedish vocab: betydelse – significance 

US in support of Sweden and Finland joining Nato

The State Department’s top diplomat for Europe, Karen Donfried, and President Joe Biden have reiterated US support for Sweden and Finland joining Nato, ahead of a meeting between Alliance foreign ministers in Berlin on Saturday.

In a phone call on Friday morning with Sweden’s Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson and Finnish President Sauli Niinistö, US President Joe Biden reiterated support for Nato’s open-door policy, the White House said. He had also stressed that Sweden and Finland had the right to decide their own future.

Donfried said on Friday: “The United States would support Finland or Sweden joining Nato should they choose to do so.” A formal membership application by the two countries would be “further evidence of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s strategic miscalculation,” she said.

Finland and Sweden are “valued Nato partners” and “thriving democracies,” Donfried said. Referring to remarks by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the top diplomat said Turkey’s position must now be clarified. 

Swedish vocab: att stödja – to support