Swedish Christians divided over joining NATO

05-04-2022

Northern Europe

Lennart Nijenhuis, CNE.news

Sweish Foreign Minister Ann Linde during a joint press conference at the end of a meeting at the NATO headquarters in Brussels. Photo EPA, Stephanie Lecocq

Should Sweden join NATO? This question is on the table again since Russia invaded Ukraine. Christians in the country are divided over the subject.

The Christian daily Dagen asked several prominent Swedish Christians about their view on the subject. Several pastors, a journalist and a writer gave their opinion on the option of joining a military alliance.

The general consensus was that now is not a good time to decide on membership. "It would signal a form of provocation against Russia. Dialogue is important, and we do not want to brag about our arsenal of weapons and strength. We should follow the path of diplomacy", says pastor Stanley Sjöberg. Ulf Ekman from Uppsala, a Catholic speaker and writer, thinks times have changed, and Sweden should join NATO. "It feels more justified. I fully understand that no one wants to send their children to war, but if a war breaks out, I am convinced that military resistance is the least evil option."

Superpower

KD, the Christian Democrats supports NATO membership. "We cannot secure our safety on our own where a military superpower threatens our borders and interests", their website states.

In early March, party leader Ebba Busch wrote on her Facebook page that now is the time to have a debate about joining NATO. "Sweden has its security policy and independence, but we are also a country that is dependent on international cooperation", Busch writes. She believes Sweden is no longer a neutral country and points out that they already have extensive cooperation with the NATO alliance but that this bond is not enough if they are attacked. "Only NATO membership provides security policy guarantees."

In 1949, Sweden chose not to join NATO. It declared a security policy aiming for non-alignment in peace and neutrality in war. This position was maintained without much discussion during the Cold War. In 1995, the country joined the European Union on the condition that it would not be part of any future defence union. Despite of this, Sweden is part of NATO partnerships, and the country has contributed to NATO peace keeping missions. That means that the country is very near to NATO, although it is not an official member.

In a poll in 2016, more Swedes were against NATO membership than in favour. The Swedish left-wing parties, including the Social Democrats and the Greens, are largely against joining NATO, while the right-wing parties favour joining.

In Finland, there is a similar debate as in Sweden, as CNE reported recently. The main difference between Sweden and Finland is that the latter has a 1,300 kilometre border with Russia.

Chain

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