Sweden Democrats give leader green light to back Nato membership

The leader of the populist Sweden Democrats party has been given a mandate by his party to push for Nato membership, meaning there is now a majority in parliament in favour of joining.

Sweden Democrats give leader green light to back Nato membership
Sweden Democrats leader appears at a pub in Malmö last week. Photo. Johan Nilsson/TT

The party called a special meeting of its decision-making committee on Monday morning and shortly after midday, the committee gave Jimmie Åkesson, the party’s leader, a mandate to seek Nato membership for Sweden. 

“We are not making this shift in our position without due consideration, but we have been in contact with The Finns, our sister party in Finland, who have also come to the same conclusion,” Aron Emilsson, the party’s foreign policy spokesperson told the Expressen newspaper. “Our assessment is that the timetable presented by the Social Democrats is far too slow.” 

Åkesson told the Svenska Dagbladet newspaper’s new political podcast on Sunday that he now believed Sweden should join Nato if Finland decided to do so, something which he predicted could happen within weeks. 

“If Finland were to push forward very rapidly — some people are talking about June — that really brings the issue to a crunch,” he said. “Then, in my judgement, we need to start this process as soon as possible.” 

READ ALSO: How soon could Sweden apply to join Nato?

If Åkesson uses his new mandate to push for Nato membership, it will mean a majority in the Swedish parliament in favour of joining the security organisation for the first time. 

The Sweden Democrats’ decision came as the ruling Social Democrats launched a “security politics dialogue” with members aimed at having “a proper discussion” on the Nato questions, and also spreading knowledge within the party about the pros and cons of Sweden’s different security choices. 

The party’s secretary, Tobias Baudin, said that the dialogue would take place “with haste”, and would be complete before the summer.  

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Erdogan signals no progress on Sweden’s NATO bid

Erdogan signalled on Saturday that no progress had been made in Sweden's bid to join NATO, urging Stockholm to take "concrete actions" to meet Ankara's concerns, his office said.

Erdogan signals no progress on Sweden's NATO bid

In a phone call with Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson, Erdogan reiterated that “Sweden should take steps regarding such fundamental matters as combatting terrorism”, the Turkish presidency said in a statement.

Turkey “wanted to see binding commitments on these issues together with concrete and clear action,” he added.

Finland and Sweden discussed their stalled NATO bids with Turkey in Brussels on Monday, but Ankara dampened hopes that their dispute will be resolved before an alliance summit next week.

Turkish officials said Ankara does not view the summit as a final deadline for resolving Ankara’s objections. Ankara has accused Finland and in particular Sweden of providing a safe haven for outlawed Kurdish militants whose decades-long insurgency against the Turkish state has claimed tens of thousands of lives.

Erdogan told Andersson that Sweden “should make concrete changes in its attitude” toward the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and its Syrian affiliates, the presidency said.

“In this regard no tangible action aimed at addressing Turkey’s concerns was seen to have been taken by Sweden”, it added.

READ ALSO: Hopes fade for Sweden’s swift Nato accession

The Turkish leader also voiced expectations that Sweden would lift an arms embargo against Turkey that Stockholm imposed in 2019 over Ankara’s military offensive in Syria.

He also said he hopes that restrictions on Turkey’s defence industry would be lifted, and that Sweden will extradite several people Ankara has accused of involvement in terrorism.

The phone call comes after Erdogan discussed the two countries’ bid with NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg. Erdogan also told Stoltenberg that “Sweden and Finland should take concrete and sincere steps” against outlawed Kurdish militants, the presidency said.