Source: Government of Sweden
Thank you, Mr. Stoltenberg,
And thank you for receiving me here, at the NATO headquarters on the eve of the Summit in Madrid.
It’s been four months since Russia launched an unprovoked, illegal and unjustifiable war against its neighbour – the peaceful and democratic state of Ukraine.
Russia has not beaten Ukraine, but they hope we will lose our focus. They want a war of attrition. I told president Zelensky last Friday, that our support for the Ukrainian people should not and will not be weakened over time.
This war is not just a threat against Ukraine. Russia’s war has created a far more dangerous reality for Europe, including Sweden. This existential threat to the European security order will be there for a long time to come. And we must act accordingly.
We are just in the middle of the biggest build-up of Swedish defence capabilities since the 1950’s. Sweden will reach two percent of GDP as soon as practicably possible and by 2028 at the latest. We are re-establishing regiments, reinforcing Gotland, reactivating national military service. We are speeding up defence equipment procurements and strengthening our cyber defence and intelligence capabilities.
But we know that that´s not enough. Building security requires cooperation with others. We conducted a two-month deliberation involving all the parties of our Parliament. In a broad majority we came to the conclusion that the best way to protect Sweden and Swedish citizens is not only to be a friend and a partner – but also as an ally in NATO. On 18 May Sweden applied for membership, hand in hand with our closest partner, Finland.
With Sweden and Finland as NATO members, the security of all NATO countries would be strengthened. Sweden would commit to the Washington Treaty in its entirety, as well as to all NATO doctrines.
Our applications have received very broad support from NATO Allies. Sweden fulfills all criteria. But consensus within NATO is required to take Sweden and Finland’s applications forward.
Our vulnerability to external threats is increased until we formally become a member. In response to this uncertainty, several Allies – including the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Spain, Norway and Denmark have extended Sweden clear assurances of support during the application period. For this we are very grateful.
Türkiye has raised some questions regarding Sweden and Finland’s applications. Our ambition is to come to an understanding on the raised issues, together with Finland and NATO. I spoke with President Erdogan this Saturday. I would say it was a good and constructive talk.
Earlier today, senior officials from Sweden, Finland and Türkiye met here in Brussels for a new round of talks. My strong hope is that this dialogue can be successfully concluded in the very near future, ideally at the Summit. Crucially, this would make it possible to immediately launch Sweden’s and Finland’s accession processes. Such an outcome would be good news for Sweden and Finland, and for NATO and the security of Europe.
Let me make some things clear.
- As a member, Sweden will contribute to the security of NATO as a whole, including Türkiye, in a spirit of solidarity. We would embrace NATO’s 360 degrees approach to security.
- As was presented in my government’s extra foreign policy statement on 10 June, Sweden condemns terrorism in the strongest possible terms. We are unequivocally committed to the fight against terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. As Allies, we will be fully committed to NATO counter terrorism policy and take active part in these efforts.
- Our stance regarding the PKK is crystal clear. It is listed as a terror organisation in the EU and is regarded as such by Sweden.
- During the last years we have strengthened the laws against funding terrorism. And Sweden’s terrorist legislation is undergoing its biggest overhaul in 30 years. A new and tougher Terrorist Offences Act enters into force on 1 July, with broadened scope and higher scales of penalties.
- Moreover, constitutional amendments are being prepared which would pave the way for criminalisation of participation in terrorist organisations. There should be no doubt that Sweden will continue to stand firm alongside other like-minded countries in the fight against terrorism.
- Our NATO membership will have implications with respect to export control of defence materiel toall NATO Allies. Alliance solidarity will be reflected within our national regulatory framework.
- One of the issues raised by Türkyie concerns Sweden’s response to Türkyie’s requests for extraditions. These matters are handled swiftly and carefully by our legal system in accordance with European Convention on Extradition.
- Sweden is not and will not be a safe haven for terrorism. The relevant authorities work intensively in order to expel persons who could be a security threat. And there are a substantial number of cases which are currently processed.
So, I am very much looking forward to continuing from here to Madrid and the discussions there with all Allied leaders. I am hopeful that these discussions can pave the way for launching our accession process – and put Sweden on the path to NATO membership. This would benefit all of us.