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NATO

TIMETABLE: Sweden’s big day for Nato membership

Sweden will today take the formal decision to apply to join the Nato security alliance, ending 200 years of neutrality or non-alignment. Here is the timetable for all of the day's key events.

Flags flutter in the wind outside NATO headquarters in Brussels, Feb. 7th, 2022.
Flags outside NATO headquarters in Brussels, Feb. 7th, 2022. With Finland and Sweden taking steps to join NATO, the list of “neutral” countries in Europe appears poised to shrink. AP Photo/Olivier Matthys/TT
  • 9am (CET). 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 debate will end in a vote on joining Nato, with the government’s ministers taking a decision shortly afterwards. A formal request to join Nato can then be submitted. The country’s president and prime minister announced on Sunday that Finland would apply to join Nato. 
  • 10.30am. A debate takes place in Sweden’s parliament, which will discuss the conclusions of the Swedish government’s ‘security policy analysis group’. The debate is expected to take about three hours. It will start with a 20 minute speech from Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson, after which the leaders of other parties will be invited to speak. Unlike the debate in the Finnish parliament, Sweden’s debate will not end with a vote. 

  • Afternoon: Sweden’s defence minister Peter Hultqvist confirmed to SVT on Monday morning that Sweden’s prime minister, Magdalena Andersson would call a government meeting where the decision on whether to join Nato will be made. 
  • 3pm. Sweden’s Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson and Ulf Kristersson, leader of the Moderate Party, are to hold a joint press conference. Will this be when the Nato decision is announced, or a preparation for it? 
  • 4.30pm. General Micael Byden, Supreme Commander of the Swedish Armed forces, to hold a press conference. 
  • Afternoon/Evening: Finland to send in requests to join Nato. 
  • This week: Sweden to send request to join Nato. Hultqvist told SVT that it was not certain the formal request to join Nato would be sent in on Monday, but according to Expressen, officials at Sweden’s foreign ministry have been drafting the text of the formal request for weeks, meaning it is now complete and ready to be submitted. According to Sweden’s TT newswire requests will be submitted “some time this week” to Nato’s headquarters in Brussels by Axel Wernhoff, Sweden’s ambassador to Nato. 

Follow the national Nato debate with The Local’s podcast, Sweden in Focus

Nato will assess the applications in May/June. According to Dagens Nyheter and SVT it could take Nato only a matter of days to assess the two countries’ expressions of interest and then offer Sweden a formal invitation to join the alliance. 

Finland’s foreign minister Pekka Haavisto said on April 13th that the process “could take four months, it could take a year.”

Nato Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said in April that he believed that the process could go rapidly.

Finland included a handy list of all the stages in its security policy analysis here

READ MORE: 

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

KEY POINTS: Five things to know about Sweden and Nato

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SWEDEN AND TURKEY

Sweden extradites first Turk since striking Nato deal

Sweden's government said on Thursday that it would hand over a Turkish citizen convicted of credit card fraud to Ankara, the first known extradition since Sweden struck a deal with Turkey promising to deal with extraditions "expeditiously and thoroughly".

Sweden extradites first Turk since striking Nato deal

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has threatened to block both Sweden and Finland from NATO membership unless they meet several demands, including the extradition of people Ankara considers “terrorists”.

Erdogan accuses the two countries of being havens for Kurdish militants, specifically highlighting the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

The man facing extradition was identified in Swedish court documents as Okan Kale, and was convicted in Turkey of credit card fraud in 2013 and 2016.

He sought asylum in Sweden in 2011 but his request was denied. He was granted refugee status in Italy in 2014. Kale’s name features on a list published in Turkish media of people that Ankara wants extradited from Sweden.

READ ALSO: 

The justice ministry would however not comment on whether the man was on a list drawn up by Turkey. It noted that Ankara had sought his extradition in 2021 — long before the Stockholm’s application to join the North Atlantic alliance in May.

“This is a regular, routine matter,” justice ministry spokeswoman Angelica Vallgren told AFP. “The extradition request was received last year.”

Kale has been held in Swedish custody since December 2021.

In an agreement signed by Sweden and Finland at a NATO summit in Madrid in late June, the two countries agreed to examine Turkish extradition requests “expeditiously and thoroughly”.

Erdogan said Sweden had made a “promise” to extradite “73 terrorists”.

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