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The NATO Accession Sweden Never Saw Coming

2 32 1
29.04.2022

On May 17, President Sauli Niinisto of Finland is scheduled to arrive in Sweden. He’ll meet with King Carl XVI Gustaf and the Swedish government before leaving the next day. And sometime during his visit, Sweden and Finland are expected to announce they’re both applying for membership of NATO. Finland has—remarkably—taken the lead, and Sweden is likely to follow, simply because if Finland joins there’s really no reason to not to do the same. Sweden is, in fact, NATO’s luckiest-ever joiner, a country swept into the alliance without having to lobby for membership and without its government even expressing a desire to join.

When Russia invaded Ukraine, Finns took note. By April 11, support for NATO membership had skyrocketed from its usual domains in the neighborhood of 20-28 percent to 68 percent. Many seem to have taken their cue from Niinisto and Prime Minister Sanna Marin, who in their clearly coordinated New Year’s addresses highlighted Finland’s right to decide its fate for itself. In mid-April, the Finnish government presented to parliament a report on the pros and cons of NATO membership (it was mostly pros), and Marin traveled to Stockholm for a meeting and press conference with Sweden’s prime minister, Magdalena Andersson. Finland’s decision whether to apply for membership will be “a matter of weeks,” she declared.

The Social Democrats have long argued that Sweden can’t join NATO without Finland, in the knowledge that Finland was extremely unlikely to join.

On May 17, President Sauli Niinisto of Finland is scheduled to arrive in Sweden. He’ll meet with King Carl XVI Gustaf and the Swedish government before leaving the next day. And sometime during his visit, Sweden and Finland are expected to announce they’re both applying for membership of NATO. Finland has—remarkably—taken the lead, and Sweden is likely to follow, simply because if Finland joins there’s really no reason to not to do the same. Sweden is, in fact, NATO’s luckiest-ever joiner, a country swept into the alliance without having to lobby for membership and without its government even expressing a desire to join.

When Russia invaded Ukraine, Finns took note. By April 11, support for NATO membership had skyrocketed from its usual domains in the neighborhood of 20-28 percent to 68 percent. Many seem to have taken their cue from Niinisto and Prime Minister Sanna Marin, who in their clearly........

© Foreign Policy


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