Last year, Sweden and Finland simultaneously applied to join NATO. An interest of Stockholm and Helsinki in jointly strengthening their defense capabilities with NATO resources was cited as one of the reasons for the joint step. In practice, however, the two countries are moving differently. The Swedish government, neglecting solidarity, supported Finland’s accession to NATO alone.
Sweden’s accession to NATO has been consistently postponed. At first, Prime Minister U. Kristersson conveyed the idea of separate admission for the two countries to the rest of NATO. After Finland’s admission to the alliance, Stockholm assured that it would join it before the NATO summit in Vilnius this July.
Now, on the one hand, the Swedish government, including Defense Minister P. Johnson, referred to next year’s NATO summit in April as the date for joining the alliance. The postponement of Sweden’s admission to 2024 is presented as a successful combination of this event with the celebration of the 75th anniversary of the transatlantic alliance. Sweden’s delay in joining NATO has already been picked up in public, political, and diplomatic circles by other alliance members, including U.S. Ambassador to Ankara J. Flake.
On the other hand, Swedish political analysts, including former Swedish Ambassador to Turkey Michael Sahlin, point out that after the Anti-Terrorism Act comes into force on June 1, 2023, there will be no change in Stockholm’s position in this area, which is what Ankara expects. The majority of Turkish requests for extradition of persons residing in Sweden who are accused of anti-state or international terrorist activities in Turkey will also remain unsatisfied. Swedish authorities keep sanctioning anti-Muslim and anti-Turkish actions.
Stockholm not only ignores Ankara’s concerns as a future ally in the alliance but also stimulates Ankara’s irritation, thereby delaying Turkey’s approval of Sweden’s application for membership in the alliance. This indicates that the Swedes do not really want to join NATO. Finland’s admission to NATO led to the creation of a defensive rampart in front of Sweden, i.e., it simultaneously strengthened its defense capabilities. Consequently, for Stockholm, membership in the alliance is no longer an issue. And cunning Swedish politicians are shifting the blame for the procrastination of integration with the alliance onto Turkey.