Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Global Implications

Turkey finally backs Sweden’s NATO bid

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : NATO

Mains level : Read the attached story

Introduction

  • Sweden’s quest to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has achieved a significant breakthrough with Turkey’s parliament endorsing its membership.
  • This crucial development underscores the evolving dynamics in global politics and Sweden’s response to regional security challenges.

About NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization)

Formation Established on April 4, 1949
Members Consists of 30 member countries
Headquarters Located in Brussels, Belgium
Mission Safeguard freedom and security through political and military cooperation
Key feature: Article 5 Mutual defense provision, attack on one is an attack on all
Operations Involved in peacekeeping and crisis management operations worldwide
NATO-Russia Relations Complex relationship with Russia, involving cooperation and tensions
Evolving Security Challenges Adapts to address evolving security challenges like terrorism, cyber threats, and hybrid warfare

Sweden’s Neutrality and Shift in Stance

  • A Two-Century Neutrality: Sweden has maintained a neutral position for over two centuries, staying out of conflicts, including both World Wars and the Cold War.
  • EU and NATO Collaboration: Despite joining the European Union and cooperating with NATO, Sweden had not previously indicated an intent to join the military alliance.
  • Changing Landscape: Sweden’s neutrality had to be reconsidered in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, prompting public opinion in favor of NATO membership.

Turkey’s Opposition and Resolution

  • Two Years of Opposition: Turkey and Hungary had opposed Sweden’s NATO membership for nearly two years.
  • Turkish Concerns: Turkey raised concerns about Sweden’s perceived leniency toward groups classified as terrorists, including the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
  • Freedom of Speech Controversy: Quran-burning protests in Sweden, protected under freedom of speech laws, further strained relations with Turkey.
  • Recent Reforms: Sweden made several efforts to address Turkey’s concerns, tightening anti-terrorism laws, cracking down on PKK activities, and easing restrictions on arms sales to Turkey.
  • Positive Developments: Sweden also pledged support for Turkey’s European Union membership bid.

Hungary’s Influence and Response

  • Following Turkey’s Lead: Hungary, under Prime Minister Viktor Orban, had been seen as aligning with Turkey in opposing Sweden’s NATO bid.
  • Grievances with Sweden: Hungary expressed dissatisfaction with Sweden’s criticisms of the rule of law and democratic state under Orban.
  • Russia-Friendly Stance: Orban maintained a more Russia-friendly stance compared to other NATO nations.
  • Invitation for Cooperation: Following Turkey’s approval, Orban invited Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson to Budapest to discuss future security and defense cooperation as allies and partners.

Sweden’s Contribution to NATO

  • Baltic Sea Territory: Sweden’s NATO membership will extend the alliance’s presence along almost the entire Baltic Sea coastline, except for the part under Russian control.
  • Strategic Bases: This expansion provides NATO with strategic bases in proximity to Russia, streamlines supply lines, and facilitates the defense of assets in the Baltic Sea.
  • Modern Military: Despite its relatively small military size, Sweden possesses modern and experienced armed forces with advanced aircraft and submarine capabilities.
  • Global Missions: Sweden’s military has participated in previous NATO missions, adding to the alliance’s operational capabilities.

Conclusion

  • Sweden’s NATO membership approval signifies a significant shift in its longstanding neutrality, driven by changing geopolitical dynamics and regional security concerns.
  • As Sweden joins the alliance, it brings strategic advantages to NATO’s posture in the Baltic Sea region and enhances the collective defense capabilities of the alliance.

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