Monday, 12 November, 2018

Swedish poll not to impact on Finland's security policy

11 Sep 2018, 00:55 ( 2 Months ago) | updated: 11 Sep 2018, 00:59 ( 2 Months ago)

DF-Xinhua Report
Foreign Minister Timo Soini . Photo Finnish government by Laura Kotila.

Foreign Minister Timo Soini said on Monday he believed the Swedish election results would have no impact on the Finnish security and foreign policy.

Soini said he believed "the good line between Finland and Sweden" would continue irrespective of what kind of government will be formed in Sweden.

Defense Minister Jussi Niinistö on Monday dismissed the alternative that "a weak government in Sweden" would not be able to maintain the Finnish-Swedish defense cooperation. Niinistö said he believed the cooperation with Finland has a wide political backing in Sweden.

Commentators in Finland and Sweden said, however, that Swedish parties have different approaches on possible Swedish membership in NATO. Even though no government would be likely to apply for a membership in the coming parliamentary period, preparations could start depending on the color of the government.

Commenting on the statement by Soini, Kai Jaskari, a Swedish guest commentator of the Finnish public broadcaster Yle, reminded that all the four parties of the Swedish "non-socialist alliance" endorse Sweden joining NATO.

Jaskari said that if those parties would form a government, with the silent support of the populist Sweden Democrats, the new government could at least start preparations to apply for a NATO membership.

Anna Svartstrom, observer of Swedish language newspaper in Finland Hufvudstadsbladet (HBL), said that in Sweden security policies have traditionally required widely political decisions, and the social democrats are opposed to going NATO. "This means that even if there would be a government of the non-socialist alliance, any fast move would not be likely," Svartstrom wrote.

The Swedish parties vary a lot in the willingness to consider their move's impact on Finland.

The conservatives and the liberals in Sweden have said that they welcome applying for a NATO membership jointly with Finland, but they do not consider the coordination with Finland as a prerequisite. Meanwhile, the Swedish center party has kept Finland as a key part of the scenario and defined that the goal would be that "both countries would become members at the same time".

The populist Sweden Democrats, which have increased their support in the election, are something of an "unclear card" on the NATO issue, HBL said. The party is not backing joining NATO, but there have been increasingly vocal statements in favor of NATO given by the party members.

In opinion polls, people who said they would vote for Sweden Democrats were, at the same time, the most NATO positive.

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