From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : NATO
Mains level : Read the attached story
- 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)
|Established on April 4, 1949
|Consists of 30 member countries
|Located in Brussels, Belgium
|Safeguard freedom and security through political and military cooperation
|Key feature: Article 5
|Mutual defense provision, attack on one is an attack on all
|Involved in peacekeeping and crisis management operations worldwide
|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.
- 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.