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Organizations oppose Sweden's NATO accession ahead of summit

Xinhua | Updated: 2023-07-08 13:25

People take part in a protest against Sweden hosting a large international military exercise and the country striving to become a member of NATO in Stockholm, Sweden, on April 22, 2023. [Photo/Xinhua]

STOCKHOLM - Several organizations have stepped up to voice their objections to Sweden joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) just days ahead of the military bloc's summit in Vilnius, Lithuania.

The Swedish Peace and Arbitration Society told Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper on Friday that the country would be safer not belonging to a military alliance.

It is "a historically bad prioritization -- Sweden safer outside NATO," said Kerstin Bergea, the society's chairperson. "I am afraid that we will escalate the tense world situation by becoming part of a nuclear weapons alliance."

"In an already heavily militarized world, NATO contributes to increased tensions and polarization," she said.

She also told DN that the NATO accession issue was rushed through by the Swedish government.

"An analysis of the consequences as well as a solid, democratic debate should have been a matter of course in such an important issue. Instead, we can join NATO with a lot of unanswered questions," she noted.

The Christian Peace Movement also opposes Sweden joining NATO, Lotta Sjostrom Becker, secretary general of the organization, told DN.

"It is a strategy leading to an arms race that increases uncertainty and counteracts the prevention of armed conflict," Becker said. "Rather than protecting our society, nuclear weapons are a threat to it."

Goran Greider, an author and the editor-in-chief of Dala-Demokraten, an independent Social Democratic newspaper, told DN that nuclear weapons were the main reason for him being against Sweden joining the NATO.

Being a member "nullifies the peace policy that has been important in Swedish foreign policy," Greider said.

"Above all, we must fight to keep Sweden free from nuclear weapons by not having nuclear weapons on Swedish soil. Sweden must also try to maintain the non-aligned tradition to be able to mediate" in conflicts, Greider said.

IKFF, the Swedish chapter of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, also stands against Sweden's NATO accession.

"Military alliances do not build peace. Military rearmament, on the contrary, creates the conditions for war. NATO is also a nuclear alliance. We do not agree with threatening with the mass murder of civilians," Lina Hjartstrom, policy and advocacy director of IKFF, told DN.

Hjartstrom said that conflict should be prevented through investments in democracy, civil society and equality.

"It is now being set aside in favor of military rearmament. Sweden would be safer if the whole world became more peaceful, and that cannot be achieved through nuclear alliances," Hjartstrom added.

Becoming a NATO member would also lead to Sweden wasting resources that could instead be invested in civil society, Hjartstrom told DN.

"The government has said that NATO membership has no consequences for gender equality. This is false, and a very naive view of NATO. A NATO membership will redistribute public resources in Sweden in ways that affect women disproportionately," Hjartstrom stressed.

She also vented fears of other unwanted consequences brought by a NATO membership.

"Prostitution and the exploitation of women's bodies often increase around military bases," Hjartstrom told DN.

On March 22, Sweden's Parliament (Riksdagen) voted in favor of the country joining NATO, but NATO members Hungary and Türkiye have yet to green light the country's accession. Sweden's accession is expected to be one of the key issues at the NATO's summit in Vilnius, scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday. 

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