In this year’s foreign policy debate, which took place two weeks ago, the most prominent was the battle for security policy. The high pitch is perhaps an example of the high level of conflict in Swedish politics right now. The debate was mainly around Proposition C on the NATO option, which had the support of the parliamentary majority.
Swedish security policy has changed in several stages since the end of the Cold War around 1990. The traditional wording about “freedom to ally in peace for neutrality in war” has given clear references to other countries, although Sweden has covertly worked closely with the United States. On a signal poll against the Soviet Union. Of course, Soviet commanders were aware of this, not least because of the information delivered by spy Stig Weinnerstrom in the 1960s. Nevertheless, the Soviet Union had trusted a commitment to remaining neutral in the conflict.
When communism collapsed and the Soviet Union dissolved around 1990, Swedish security policy began to change. As early as 1992, the wording was changed to deal with “coalition military freedom” and the goal was no longer to be automatically neutral, but to “be able to be neutral in the event of a war in our immediate area.” It was a decisive change implemented by the Bildt government in agreement with the Social Democrats.
In 2002, Secretary of State Anna Lindh (S) continued to dilute neutrality. Instead, it referred to membership in the European Union, which aims to help prevent war. The Defense Act stated two years later that “it is difficult to imagine Sweden taking a neutral position in the event of an armed attack on another country in the European Union”. So neutrality wasn’t even an option. In 2014, the Parliamentary Defense Committee developed the “Solidarity Security Policy”. This would make the NATO issue less exciting than it was 25 years ago.
At the same time, Sweden has strengthened its military cooperation, primarily with Finland, but also with Norway, the United States, and the United Kingdom – and NATO. However, NATO membership is not relevant. There is no majority for him, either in Parliament or in public opinion. But in the Swedish Parliament, the majority now supports that Sweden, like Finland, must speak out in favor of the NATO option, to be able to apply for membership in NATO. As Karl Bild commented on this, the possibility is always there.
Finland, like Sweden, has been impartial since World War II to be neutral in the war. Thanks to the promise of neutrality (and the fact that Sweden also promised neutrality), Finland escaped the fate of Poland, Czechoslovakia, and other countries falling under the “Communist Boot”.
The NATO option is now seen in Finland as a “soft deterrent” directed against Russia. At the same time, NATO membership was conditional on being tested in a referendum. This was not discussed in the debate over the NATO option in Sweden. Sure, there are reasons for Sweden and Finland to coordinate their security policy strategies, but everyone should be aware of different circumstances depending on the geopolitics. An open debate about security policy is a good thing, but not least because of developments in Russia today, the loud tone is worrying. Broad consensus, as always, is of value in these matters.