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

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 Wednesday
File photo of an IKEA store in Kazan, Russia. Photo: Jessica Gow/TT

Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson addresses the nation

In a rare address to the nation yesterday evening, Andersson stated that modern Europe had “no place for ‘spheres of influence’”, and that “Russia’s armed attack is not just an attack on Ukraine, it is an attack on every country’s right to decide its own future”.

She also spoke of Sweden’s historic decision to send defensive weapons to Ukraine’s armed forces, stating that “Sweden has not done anything like this since the Soviet Union attacked Finland in 1939.”

In her speech, she stated that Sweden will further increase their defence spending due to the worsening security situation in neighbouring countries.

She also called on the people of Sweden to not spread disinformation or information on Sweden’s defence.

The entire text of the speech is available in The Local’s unofficial English translation, here, and in Swedish, here.

Swedish vocabulary: Sveriges närområde – Sweden’s neighbouring countries

Sweden and Finland see ‘historic’ surge in support for Nato

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has upended the status quo in traditionally non-aligned Finland and Sweden, ushering in an “historic” surge in support for Nato, “exceptional” arms exports and defiance in the face of Russian demands, AFP report.

Both Sweden and Finland are officially non-aligned, although they have been Nato partners since the mid-1990s and ended their neutral stance at the end of the Cold War.

Finland’s parliament debated a public petition calling for a referendum on Nato membership on Tuesday afternoon.

For the first time, a majority (53 percent) of Finns are in favour of joining the Atlantic alliance, according to a poll published on Monday by public broadcaster Yle.

This is almost double the number a month ago, when a survey in the Helsingin Sanomat newspaper put support for NATO membership at just 28 percent.

“(This is) a completely historic and exceptional result,” Charly Salonius-Pasternak, senior research fellow at Finnish Institute of
International Affairs, told AFP.

Support for joining Nato is historically high in Sweden too — at 41 percent, according to a poll by public broadcaster SVT last Friday.

Swedish vocabulary: Att gå med i Nato – to join Nato

IKEA and H&M stores still open in Russia

The two Swedish flagship companies are continuing to conduct business in Russia, despite strong international reactions and sanctions following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

This decision could cost the two companies dearly, brand expert Eva Ossiansson told newswire TT.

“They should think about the kind of values they want to be associated with,” she told TT.

Sanctions from Europe and the USA are a way of ‘starving’ the Russian economy to mark that Russia’s actions in Ukraine are not tolerated by the international community. They have already had wide-ranging consequences for Russia, and many Swedish companies have stated this week that they are stopping or temporarily pausing business in Russia.

However, H&M and IKEA are open as usual. Neither of the companies wanted to make a statement or answer interview questions when contacted by TT, and their press officers wrote short email responses to the newswire’s request for comment.

H&M wrote: “our stores in Russia are open, we are waiting before making further comment”.

Swedish vocabulary: håller sin verksamhet i gång – continue to conduct business

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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