“After this debate, I can see that there is a large and large majority in Parliament for Sweden to be a candidate for NATO (…) and the government is ready to take this decision”, declared the First Swedish Minister Magdalena Andersson in front of MPs.
With the historic swing of the Social Democratic Party to power on Sunday, six of the eight parties in Parliament are now in favor of membership, representing a theoretical majority of 304 deputies out of a total of 349, or more than 85%.
A press conference by the head of government and right-wing opposition leader Ulf Kristersson has been called for Monday afternoon.
Sweden’s decision is clearly influenced by the Finnish candidacy, Ms Andersson admitted to the chamber.
Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Helsinki has been at the forefront of NATO membership, with Sweden more of a follower.
If the Scandinavian country became the only non-NATO country around the Baltic Sea, it would find itself “in a very vulnerable position”, she pleaded, citing the risk of seeing “Russia increase the pressure on Sweden”.
Without Swedish membership, “Finland as a NATO member will focus more on its cooperation with NATO countries and Sweden’s defense capability will decline at a time when it needs to be strengthened,” he said. -she adds.
– “Serious error” –
The candidacies of Sweden and Finland to NATO in reaction to the Russian offensive against Ukraine constitute a “serious error” whose “consequences will have far-reaching consequences”, judged on Monday the Russian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Foreigners, Sergei Ryabkov.
While the Kremlin justified its invasion of Ukraine by the risk of NATO extending to its doors, Finnish membership would extend the border between Russia and the countries of the alliance by some 1,300 kilometers.
With Sweden, the Baltic Sea would become a “Nato lake”, apart from Russian waters off Kaliningrad and Saint Petersburg.
The Eduskunta, the Finnish Parliament, began a marathon session on Monday morning to examine the candidacy officially presented on Sunday by the executive, before a vote which will take place at the earliest on Tuesday.
According to the latest Finnish media reports, at least 85% of the 200 elected will vote yes to the NATO candidacy.
“The only country that threatens European security and openly leads a war of aggression is Russia,” said Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin opening the debate.
“Our security environment has fundamentally changed,” she said.
Due to the large number of interventions planned – more than 150 – the vote cannot take place on Monday, warned the president of the chamber Matti Vanhanen.
Formal applications are to be sent to NATO headquarters later in the week, with Stockholm and Helsinki planning a simultaneous application.
Finnish President Sauli Niinistö also met with US Republican senators in Helsinki on Monday morning, including their leader Mitch McConnell.
“The goal in the United States is to approve membership as quickly as possible,” he said after the meeting.
All NATO countries must ratify membership and in the United States the agreement is given by the American Senate with a reinforced two-thirds majority.
NATO had assured that the two countries would be welcomed “with open arms”, but Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan came to blur the prospect of unanimity without difficulty, saying he was hostile to the Swedish-Finnish entry.
Turkey accuses them – and especially Stockholm – of showing too much leniency towards the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, the PKK, although it is on the EU list of terrorist organisations.