Sweden’s governing party backs NATO membership

Sweden’s governing Social Democrat Party on Sunday backed the idea of ​​the country joining NATO in a historic policy U-turn that clears the way for a formal membership application in the coming days.

The move brings Sweden into line with neighboring Finland, where both the president and prime minister said last week that their country should join the Western military alliance.

Observers say Sweden’s official NATO bid could come as soon as Monday, with Finland likely moving on a similar timeline.

Sweden has avoided all military alliances for more than two centuries, with national luminaries like former Prime Minister Olof Palme famously heralding the way his country’s military independence allowed it to be a force for peace in the world.

But in recent decades, Sweden has become more overtly aligned with NATO, signing up to a cooperation agreement called Partnership for Peace in 1994 and ratifying a Host Nation Agreement in 2016, which allows troops from the alliance to operate more easily on Swedish territory.

Last week, a Swedish parliamentary report on the country’s security strategy suggested that NATO membership would “raise the threshold for military conflicts,” a position Social Democrat Foreign Minister Ann Linde repeated when she presented the report’s findings on Friday.