Sweden officially becomes the 32nd NATO member country

This marks the end of two centuries of non-alignment

Sweden officially becomes the 32nd NATO member country

This marks the end of two centuries of non-alignment. On Thursday March 7, Sweden became the 32nd member of NATO by handing over official documents during a ceremony in Washington. Sweden's membership in NATO is "a victory for freedom", declared its Prime Minister, Ulf Kristersson.

“All things come to those who wait,” declared the head of American diplomacy, Antony Blinken, referring to a long ratification process with the thirty-one other members. The Secretary of State estimated that this integration demonstrates the “strategic debacle” suffered by Russia. “If you step back and think about where we were three years ago, none of this was predictable,” he added. American President Joe Biden also assured, in a press release, that NATO was “stronger than ever” with the accession of Sweden on Thursday. Russian President Vladimir Putin “wanted to divide” the defense alliance by attacking Ukraine, but the transatlantic organization is on the contrary “more united, determined and dynamic than ever,” he said.

The ratification of this accession was obtained through a tough struggle after long negotiations with certain members of the Alliance. “This is a historic day. Sweden will now take its rightful place at the NATO table,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in a statement. “After two hundred years of non-alignment, Sweden now enjoys the protection of Article 5, the full guarantee for the freedom and security” of its members, he added. On Monday, the blue and yellow flag must be raised in front of NATO headquarters in Brussels.

Russia promised last week to take “countermeasures” in response to Stockholm’s accession, which will depend “on the conditions and scale of Sweden’s integration into NATO.”

Negotiations with Turkey

Sweden's accession, following that of Finland last year, means that all countries bordering the Baltic Sea, with the exception of Russia, are now members of the Atlantic Alliance.

Sweden and Finland, although militarily close to the United States through their membership of the European Union, have historically preferred to stay away from the alliance, formed during the Cold War against the Soviet Union. . Although Sweden contributes to international peacekeeping forces, it has not experienced war since a conflict with Norway in 1814.

Helsinki and Stockholm simultaneously announced their candidacy to join NATO in 2022, in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Finland had obtained its accession to the Alliance last April, but Sweden's accession process was punctuated by negotiations with Turkey, which accused the Nordic country of leniency towards Kurdish activists who had taken refuge on its soil, considered to be some as terrorists by Ankara.

“Too many sacrifices”

Sweden also had to deal with the reluctance of the Hungarian Prime Minister. Viktor Orban had certainly given his agreement in principle a long time ago but, before completing the process, he demanded “respect” from Stockholm, after years of “denigration” of his policies.

At the end of February, the Hungarian Parliament finally ratified Sweden's membership in NATO. According to an SR radio poll broadcast on Friday, a majority of Swedes believe that their country has made "too many sacrifices" to become a NATO member, while admitting that Sweden's security has been strengthened with this membership .

Sweden's accession to NATO was accompanied by a marked hardening of the rhetoric of its leaders, with the commander-in-chief of the Swedish armed forces, Micael Biden, declaring in January that his compatriots "must prepare themselves mentally for the war ". In addition to its NATO candidacy, Sweden signed an agreement at the beginning of December authorizing the United States to have access to seventeen military bases on its soil.