Swedish opposition wants parliament to have role in Nato decision

Opposition parties are calling on Sweden's government to today spell out the parliament's role in handling a decision on whether or not to join the Nato security alliance.

Swedish opposition wants parliament to have role in Nato decision
The Moderate Party's foreign policy spokesperson meets the press ahead of the fifth meeting of the inter-party security policy analysis group. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

Hans Wallmark, foreign policy spokesperson for the opposition Moderate Party, told the TT newswire that he expected an announcement to be made after  the fifth meeting of the cross-party security policy analysis group, which is helping draw up the government’s new analysis of the changed security situation. 

However, no announcement was made, and a press conference foreign minister Ann Linde had called for 5pm, was cancelled at short notice. 

Wallmark said he was pushing for the analysis to be be submitted as a written statement to parliament when it is published on May 13th, in a similar way to that in which the Finnish government’s analysis was last month. 

The submission could then be followed by a parliamentary debate in which all parties would be able to propose motions. 

READ ALSO: The likely timetable for how Sweden could join Nato

“There must be some possibility for parliament to be heard,” he told Sweden’s TT newswire. “This is a shift in position which deserves a broad and frank debate which the Swedish people are given the possibility to follow.”

Mikael Oscarsson, defence spokesperson for the Christian Democrats agreed that parliamentary backing should be secured for the decision to join Nato. 

“This is a big and important step, after all,” he said, saying it was not enough for the Social Democrat party to shift position on the issues. 

The ‘Sossarna’ [Social Democrats] are not the same the thing as Sweden,” he said. 

The Sweden Democrats are also calling for the Nato decision to be backed by the parliament. 

“If you want to establish national unity and as much responsibility for this as possible, then you want to get the backing of parliament and also have an open parliamentary debate,” the party’s foreign policy spokesperson, Aron Emilsson, said. 

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Sweden’s PM Magdalena Andersson in US to visit President Biden

Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson is in Washington today alongside Finland’s president Sauli Niinistö. The two will visit US President Joe Biden to discuss the war in Ukraine and Turkey’s opposition to their Nato applications, which were handed in yesterday.

Sweden's PM Magdalena Andersson in US to visit President Biden

“The meeting is an important security policy signal,” Andersson wrote on her Instagram account from Washington DC.

The two Nordic leaders boarded their flight to Washington shortly after their Nato ambassadors applied to join the alliance on Wednesday morning.

At the meeting in the White House today, the delicate security situation in both Finland and Sweden will be discussed.

The US has given security assurances to the two countries during the gap between their applications to join Nato and the accession as members, as have Britain, France, Germany, Denmark, Norway and Iceland. 

“Biden Finland and Sweden are longtime, stalwart partners of the United States. By joining Nato, they will further strengthen our defence cooperation and benefit the entire Transatlantic Alliance,” Biden said in his statement. 

The US would maintain its “robust exercise activity and presence” in the Baltic Sea region, he added.

“While their applications for Nato membership are being considered, the United States will work with Finland and Sweden to remain vigilant against any threats to our shared security, and to deter and confront aggression or the threat of aggression.” 

Another issue on the agenda will be how to respond to Turkey’s moves to block the process until Sweden and Finland meet demands to, among other things, extradite people in Sweden the country claims are linked to terror organisations and end  its embargo on weapons sales to Sweden. 

The US, as the most powerful country in the alliance, could be able to put pressure on Turkey’s President, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, to back down, or offer other concessions, perhaps over its wish to buy US F-16 fighter jets.  

Andersson spoke to Biden on the phone on Friday and met him in Brussels at the end of March, but this is her first visit to Washington as prime minister. 

Final approval for Sweden and Finland’s bid could take up to a year, and Russia is expected to react to the two countries joining Nato in some way.

Sweden and Finland’s decision to join the Nato alliance was applauded by Ukrainians taking part in a demonstration outside the White House.