Sweden, Finland mull NATO entry, while grassroots say no
Sweden and Finland cooperate extensively with NATO and openly debate the possibility of joining.
According to this June survey conducted in Finland, asking Should Finland Join NATO? 29% of respondents said yes, 52% said no, and 18% had no answer. Moreover, a slightly larger percentage still didn’t like the idea of NATO membership, even if neighboring Sweden were to also join the alliance – some 59 percent. Just 28 percent supported the idea of following Sweden into the military pact.
Taloustutkimus research director Juho Rahkonen said that the position of ordinary Finns on NATO membership has remained more or less constant across a number of different surveys since the beginning of the 1990s. “The majority of Finns think that Finland should make its own decisions regardless of what neighboring countries do. For example when Baltic countries joined NATO in 2004, that also wasn’t enough to influence the Finnish stance on NATO,” he explained. The survey showed that nearly half of Finns had arrived at the same conclusion. Altogether 49 percent of respondents agreed fully or in part that Finland is no longer non-aligned, compared to 24 percent who disagreed fully or partly. A fairly significant portion – 28 percent of respondents – didn’t take a position on the question. Taloustutkimus interviewed 1,000 respondents between June 5 and 11 for the survey. The margin of error was plus or minus three percent. (1)
On June 19, 2013 in an interview with Yle’s A-studio following a high-level Finnish conference on foreign and security policy, President Sauli Niinistö said that Finland’s possible NATO membership should be reconsidered, especially in light of the changing world order. President Sauli Niinistö addressed the changing global landscape and its impact on Finnish foreign and security policy during a conference at his summer residence in Naantali with some 100 invited experts, politicians and business leaders. “I do not think that NATO's door is closing on us in any way,” said Niinistö. “We can apply for membership at any time.”(2) Finnish author and former political figure Max Jakobson is a leading advocate of the NATO membership idea for many years. According to him, "A new kind of cooperation between organizations is emerging in Europe, where NATO and the European Union are working more closely together. As EU members, Sweden and Finland are inescapably part of this process." (3)
This year Swedish defense capability was discussed frequently, after the Defence Chief's announcement that Sweden is able to defend an area for a week and then it would need outside help. Spooks are spreading around that Russia presents a growing threat combined with a feeling that the EU’s CSDP might be insufficient security insurance could yet instigate a Swedish application to join. The prospects for a future application by Sweden brightened in July when the Social Democrats, a party traditionally opposed to stronger formal links with the alliance, reversed its position to support a government initiative to allow Swedish forces to train with NATO’s Rapid Response Force. “We are talking about advanced training exercises that we can’t do ourselves in Sweden. It would mean cooperation at a deeper level with NATO, just as Finland, which is also non-aligned, does. Taking part in Response Force exercises is vital if we want to develop the full capacity of our military,” said Hultqvist, who is also the Social Democrats’ shadow spokesman on defense. (4) Sweden’s Christian-Democrat opposition party, meanwhile, is lobbying for full membership in NATO. The Christian-Democrats say NATO membership offers the only long-term viable defense solution to protect the sovereignty of Sweden and neighboring Nordic states. “Having a Nordic battalion force is useful in the short-term, but the truth is Sweden needs to be in NATO. We must become a full member,” said Mikael Oscarsson. “This is the only solution that can contribute to increased security both for our country and neighboring Nordic countries,” he said on June 5. (5)
No matter all the statements in support of NATO membership, it remains a fairly unpopular idea in Sweden. According to latest opinion polls conducted in May, 29 percent of Swedish people support Sweden becoming a member of NATO unlike 32 percent who are against. 39 percent, a very large swing section is undecided.There is a combination of lingering anti-Americanism, a consequence of the George W Bush years and a lingering hostility towards nuclear weapons that mean the task of convincing the public won’t be easy. (6). The poll also looked at feelings towards NATO within Sweden's different political parties. It found that one in four Social Democrats supported membership, while as many as one in two Moderate Party supporters wanted to join. While the Moderates are officially in favor of joining, it's the party's coalition ally the Liberals (Folkpartiet) that has at times lobbied for membership and made it a talking point on the political agenda.
In interview with the Voice of Russia on February 5, Agneta Norberg, Vice Chair of the Swedish Peace Council, Member of Steering Committee of the International Peace Bureau and a member of the board of directors of Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space discussed the facts surrounding Sweden’s non-neutrality and the country’s involvement in NATO and Western military expansion. According to her, “the people in Sweden and in Finland are against. It is only about 19% of the Swedish population that accept NATO; the others don’t. So, they have that problem here. But I can see the lust, how they try to form an enemy out of Russia, and you should understand this: how Russia now is demonized, again.” She also added, “Not openly, the neutrality we have left openly, but not the non-aligned posture. I can give you an example: they are now training in North America for war in Nevada. They were training together with the US in 2006 in Alaska. They went with 6 or 7 warplanes to Alaska and made a huge maneuver outside North Korea together with the US. So, we are actively joining in different parts of the world. Of course we are in Afghanistan now. And so I think you have to start to understand that Sweden has quite another position now and we are a NATO country. It is only a document that is left to be done. That’s the situation now in Sweden”. (6)
Russia will not be idle while NATO creeps near
On June 42013 Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said Moscow does not regard NATO’s expansion towards its borders as positive as Sweden and Finland are likely to join the western military coalition. He said that Moscow would have to react to a possible change in the balance of forces in Europe if Sweden and Finland decide to enter NATO. “This is their own business; they are making decisions in accordance with the national sovereignty doctrine. But we have to consider the fact that for us the NATO bloc is not simply some estranged organization, but a structure with military potential,” Medvedev saidat the Euro-Arctic Council’s forum. (7)
He noted that under certain scenarios this potential could be employed against Russia. The Russian Prime Minister added that all new members of the North Atlantic alliance that are in Russia’s proximity “eventually do change the parity of the military force. And we have to react to this.” The issue of NATO expansion towards Russia’s borders is also significant as it has direct links to the deployment of missile system in NATO member countries.
Leading Sweden and Finland into the embrace of NATO will make the nations targets of potential retaliatory strike while compelling them to participate in unwanted wars. As one can see the policy is implemented against the will of common people who find good neighborly relations with everyone and sticking to traditional neutrality as the course that serves them best. They also realize Russia will not stand idle looking at further NATO expansion… It has been made clear in no uncertain terms. With all the brainwashing going on, Swedes and Finns say no to dragging them into the US-dominated military alliance and the politicians of the both countries have to reckon with this reality.
(6).http://english. ruvr.ru/2013_ 01_30/Militariza tion-of-the- Arctic-We- have-to-rethink- how-war-is- fought-Nordberg/)