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The Casa Revista

The student news site of Casa Grande High School

The Casa Revista

The student news site of Casa Grande High School

The Casa Revista

NATO & Sweden: What’s the Big Deal?

Photo by ABC News

As Sweden navigates a complex political landscape, the question of its involvement with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is becoming increasingly significant. As a non-member of this military alliance, Sweden’s strategic choices have garnered attention and speculation, and their stance on NATO holds relevance on both regional and global scales. But before we dive into that, what even is NATO?

NATO, or the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, was established in 1949 as a collective defense alliance with the primary aim of safeguarding the security and stability of its member states. The organization emerged in the aftermath of World War II, during a period of heightened tensions between the Western democracies and the Soviet Union. The signing of the North Atlantic Treaty marked a commitment by its founding members to mutual defense in the event of an armed attack on any of them.

Originally, NATO’s primary purpose was to serve as a bulwark against the expansionist ambitions of the Soviet Union and its influence in Eastern Europe. The alliance was formed on the basis of the principle of collective defense, encapsulated in Article 5 of the NATO Treaty, which asserts that an attack on one member is considered an attack on all, and all members will respond accordingly.

As the geopolitical landscape evolved and the Cold War came to an end, NATO’s role shifted. Rather than disbanding, the alliance adapted to address emerging security challenges. Today, NATO functions as a political and military alliance that goes beyond its initial defense focus. It serves as a platform for diplomatic cooperation, crisis management, and conflict prevention. The alliance engages in a wide array of activities, including peacekeeping operations, disaster relief, and counterterrorism efforts.

In the post-Cold War era, NATO has expanded its membership to include former Eastern Bloc countries, promoting democratic values and stability in Europe. It has also adapted to address new threats such as cyberattacks and hybrid warfare. The alliance remains a key player in maintaining regional and global security, emphasizing cooperation and partnership with various international organizations. While the core commitment to collective defense persists, NATO’s functions have diversified to meet the challenges of the 21st century, reflecting its ongoing relevance in an ever-changing world, but many countries have run into trouble with this organization.

After facing nearly two years of delays, Sweden’s NATO membership bid recently received a significant boost as Turkey granted approval. The final step remains with Hungary, the sole existing NATO member yet to give the green light, as the unanimous consent of all current member nations is required for a new member to join the alliance.

Sweden refrained from military alliances for over 200 years and firmly rejected NATO membership. However, in the wake of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Sweden swiftly abandoned its longstanding policy of neutrality and soon applied for NATO membership and an alliance with its neighbor, Finland.

Originally, Sweden and a few other countries rallied for staying neutral after the Cold War and the looming threat on Russia’s military power. But Russia’s subsequent aggression over the years has notably changed the minds of Sweden’s citizens, who now petitioned for a NATO membership.

While Finland’s application went along swimmingly, Sweden did not have such a pleasure. Sweden’s application was very strongly held up by Turkey and Hungary, who imposed very strict conditions that Sweden had to abide to, including taking military stances against threats to Turkish power. Similarly, Hungary declared that Swedish politicians made false claims about Hungary’s government/democracy.

Pressure from the U.S. and other NATO members ultimately was cause for Turkey to relinquish their requirements, and their Parliament finally approved of Sweden’s membership, but Hungary still remains a standstill.

The addition of Sweden to NATO would result in the Baltic Sea being bordered by NATO nations, fortifying the alliance’s influence in this crucial region. The Baltic Sea serves as Russia’s maritime access point to both St. Petersburg and the Kaliningrad enclave.

While the country’s admission is still pending, several NATO allies are urging Hungary to not slow down the process.

Viktor Orban (Prime Minister of Hungary)
(Photo by Akos Stiller/Bloomberg)
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