The Irish Times

The Irish Times online. Latest news including sport, analysis, business, weather and more from the definitive brand of quality news in Ireland.

https://www.irishtimes.com/

Finland’s leaders announce intent to apply for Nato membership.

Sweden moves one step closer to Nato membership on Friday with a new security policy analysis that could end a two-century tradition of neutrality and military non-alignment.

That prospect has divided Sweden’s ruling Social Democrats ahead of a crunch party board meeting on Sunday – and sparked growing protest from some regional MPs at being “forced” to give rapid backing for Nato membership.

Adding further momentum to the Swedish debate on Thursday was a joint call by Finland’s president and prime minister for their country’s political parties to expedite their decision on alliance membership.

“As a member of Nato, Finland would strengthen the entire defence alliance,” said president Sauli Niinistö and prime minister Sanna Marin in a statement.

Finland shares a long history, and a 1,300km border, with Russia, but Moscow’s war on Ukraine has seen Finnish support for Nato membership rise from 28 per cent in January to 73 per cent now.

Responding to the statement of Finnish leaders, Russia said its membership of Nato would damage bilateral ties and prompt “retaliatory steps, both of a military-technical and other nature . . . to neutralise the threats to its national security that arise from this”.

Russian state television said the main beneficiary of the Nato enlargement was the US, accusing president Joe Biden on Thursday of trying to erect a “new iron curtain from the Barents to the Black Sea”.

Mr Niinistö hit back at Russian warnings, saying: “Joining Nato would not be against anyone. You caused this. Look in the mirror.”

Earlier this week, Helsinki’s parliamentary defence committee called Nato membership “the best solution for Finland’s security” while, on Wednesday, Finland and Sweden signed mutual security pacts with the UK.

Parliamentary session

In Helsinki, a special committee will announce Finland’s formal decision on Sunday. On Monday in Stockholm a special parliamentary session has been called after which prime minister Magdalena Andersson will reportedly make the formal decision at a special cabinet meeting. Stockholm and Helsinki have indicated they will file formal Nato membership applications in tandem.

On Thursday Sweden’s minister for foreign affairs Ann Linde conceded that Thursday’s Finnish declaration would “of course affect” the domestic debate.

“But Sweden has its own process and we are not yet done with it,” she said, in a nod to Friday’s security policy presentation.

A growing feeling of inevitability over the Nato application process has caused fury among some in the Social Democrats. Last year’s party congress backed retaining Sweden’s traditional policy of non-alignment while, in December, the Social Democrat-led government refused to back an opposition demand for a “Nato option” in its security policy.

At Social Democrat party meetings across the country, many MPs have reported huge resistance to Nato membership, the pace of the decision-making – and often both.

Niklas Karlsson, vice-chairman of parliament’s defence committee and a Social Democrat MP for the southern Scania region, said there was a “strong majority” among his local party members to maintain non-alignment, despite concerns and hesitation caused by Russia’s invasion.

“There is criticism that this is far too short a time to discuss such a complex issue,” he said. “I will address this at the party board on Sunday. If the decision is to extend the time for the discussion, I will be happy.”

‘Far too fast’

Mikael Andersson, Social Democrat chairman in the southern city of Helsingborg, agrees that the process has been “far too fast for such a complex issue”.

“I am critical of the fact that it has been forced forward,” he told the Svenska Dagbladet daily.

Leading figures in the opposition Moderates say Sweden’s application is a done deal.

For the liberal-conservative Moderates, long-time backers of joining Nato, Finland’s move on Thursday “makes it even more obvious that Sweden should go the same way”.

Moderates foreign policy spokesman Hans Wallmark, who helped draft Friday’s security document, says it makes no explicit recommendation to join Nato but “when we present it, I think that will be quite clear and obvious”.

“We’ve had two parallel but separate processes in Sweden, one for the Social Democrats and one for parliament,” he told The Irish Times. “We are not there yet but all we are doing now is more or less waiting for the Social Democrats.”

Останні новини
Biden’s policies are dumb and dangerous: Sen. Lindsey Graham

Biden’s policies are dumb and dangerous: Sen. Lindsey Graham

Sen. Lindsey Graham discusses Biden’s failing presidency and how Republicans should put a plan in place to right his wrongs on ‘Hannity.’ #Hannity #FoxNews Subscribe to Fox News! Watch more Fox News Video: Watch Fox News Channel Live: FOX News Cha...

1 1

Partygate: Labour says PM still  «has to go»  despite police investigation ending.

Partygate: Labour says PM still «has to go» despite police investigation ending.

Labour is continuing to call for Boris Johnson to resign despite the police investigation into Downing Street parties ending. Shadow Secretary of State for Women and Equalities, Anneliese Dodds, said the Prime Minister should step down after he "f...

Concern grows as more countries detect monkeypox - DW News.

Concern grows as more countries detect monkeypox - DW News.

The UK and other European countries have reported a small number of human monkeypox infections, a virus rarely seen in Europe. The US, Canada and Australia are also investigating cases. Health services remain puzzled over how the virus is transmit...

1

'Ukraine's destroyed Donbas is HELL as Russia piles on pressure', warns Zelensky.

'Ukraine's destroyed Donbas is HELL as Russia piles on pressure', warns Zelensky.

Russia’s renewed offensive in Ukraine’s Donbas has destroyed the eastern region and turned it into “hell”, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Thursday, accusing Moscow of carrying out senseless bombardments. After failing to take Ukrai...

Democrats are pushing a new 'war on terror' on American citizens: Greenwald.

Democrats are pushing a new 'war on terror' on American citizens: Greenwald.

Glenn Greenwald tells 'The Ingraham Angle' that unlike the first war on terror, this one is increasingly a war on terror on domestic soil aimed not at foreign nationals, but domestic citizens. House Democrats plus Adam Kinzinger voted to nearly cr...

1

Rising Broadway stars in ‘A Whole New World’ shine spotlight on AAPHI representation.

Rising Broadway stars in ‘A Whole New World’ shine spotlight on AAPHI representation.

Shoba Narayan and Michael Malikael play Jasmine and Aladdin in the new Broadway show ‘A Whole New World.’ Also, director Jon M. Chu is paving the way in Hollywood while celebrating community.