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MILITARY

Sweden’s crisis agency calls for return of ‘civil conscription’

Sweden’s Civil Contingencies Agency has called on the government to reactivate the country's “civil conscription”, which allows Swedish citizens between 16 and 65 years old to be given “war placements” in critical services.

Sweden's crisis agency calls for return of ‘civil conscription’
A helicopter from Sweden's rescue services during Storm Malik in January. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

“We believe that it’s possible to take such a decision rapidly so that we have enough people ready if the absolute worst were to happen,” Camilla Asp, the agency’s operations director, told state broadcaster SR.

While Sweden has never removed Swedish residents’ duty to do any role the government required of them in the case of a war or crisis, the system of civil conscription, or civilplikten, has been dormant since 2010.

Under the system, citizens are given roles in critical functions of society, such as the rescue services, healthcare, and childcare, and commit to leaving their every day work and switching function in the event of a crisis. 

Every party in parliament except the Social Democrats told SR on Tuesday that they supported bringing back the system. 

“The government has acted slowly when it comes to the development of civil defence, so now its crucial that every part of civil defence is brought back into place, seen in the light of the considerably worsened security situation,” said Pål Jonson, from the Moderate Party. 

Justice Minister Morgan Johansson told SR that he would wait until the Civil Contingencies Agency publishes its full assessment of how Sweden’s civil defence needs to be improved on April 29th.

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NATO

Sweden ‘to send in Nato request on Monday’

Sweden will express its interest in joining the Nato alliance on Monday, Sweden's Expressen newspaper has reported, citing anonymous sources.

Sweden 'to send in Nato request on Monday'

According to the newspaper, Magdalena Andersson will call a governmental meeting late on Monday where the decision on whether to join Nato will be made, after which the country will send in formal documentation immediately.

Officials at Sweden’s foreign ministry have been drafting the text for several weeks, the paper claims, meaning it is now complete and ready to be submitted. 

The meeting will follow a debate scheduled in Sweden’s Riksdag parliament for 10.30am on Monday morning, which will discuss the conclusions of the Swedish government’s ‘security policy analysis group’, which is due to submit its reassessment of Sweden’s security situation this Friday. The anti-Nato Left and Green parties are unlikely to support the conclusions of the report and the report is not expected to state explicitly whether Sweden should join the alliance or not.

After the debate, Finland’s president, Sauli Niinistö, who is on a state visit to Sweden, will hold a speech in the parliament, with the title “a responsible, strong and stable North”. 

Finland on Thursday kicked off the formal process whereby Sweden and Finland are likely to join Nato, when its president Sauli Niinistö and prime minister Sanna Marin published a joint statement recommending that Finland apply to join “without delay”. 

On Sunday, the ruling committee of Sweden’s ruling Social Democrats will take a decision on whether to back Nato membership for Sweden, thereby reversing the policy of non-alignment it has supported since before Nato was founded. 

The formal shift in the Social Democrats’ position will remove the last hurdle to a Swedish decision in favour of joining Nato. 

Here’s a breakdown of how the day might look: 

  • 9am. The day starts at 9am, Swedish time, when the Finnish parliament meets to discuss the decision taken by the government on Sunday. No other parliamentary business is scheduled. According to the Hufvudstadsbladet newspaper the Finnish parliament will also publish the conclusions of its debates in a letter to the government recommending that Finland apply to join Nato.
  • 10.30am. A debate is scheduled in Sweden’s parliament, which will discuss the conclusions of the Swedish government’s ‘security policy analysis group’. 
  • 12am. Finland’s president, Sauli Niinistö, who is on a state visit to Sweden, will hold a speech in the parliament with the title “a responsible, strong and stable North”. 
  • Afternoon: According to Expressen, Sweden’s prime minister, Magdalena Andersson will call a governmental meeting late on Monday, where the decision on whether to join Nato will be made.
  • Officials at Sweden’s foreign ministry have been drafting the text of the application for several weeks, the paper claims, meaning it is now complete and ready to be submitted. 
  • Afternoon/Evening: Sweden and perhaps Finland send in applications to join Nato.
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