Swedish journalist: Host Nation Support Agreement one step closer to NATO

Swedish Air Force Saab JAS 39 Gripen fighter jets at a NATO military exercise in Lithuania. 2014. (Ints Kalnins/Reuters/Scanpix)
By Vahur Lauri
5/27/2016 11:08 AM
Category: News

This summer, NATO troops may begin using Swedish territory, as the Swedish Riksdag ratified the Host Nation Support Agreement with NATO on Wednesday, a step agreed upon already at NATO’s 2014 Wales Summit.

Sweden has already taken part in NATO operations in Kosovo, Afghanistan and Libya, but now it will be possible to cooperate with Sweden on the latter’s own soil. International Centre for Defence Studies analyst Kalev Stoicescu noted that Sweden was under some degree of political pressure — a memorandum of cooperation was signed in Wales two years ago and a new summit is coming up, reported ETV’s nightly news broadcast “Aktuaalne kaamera.”

“It was also clear that [Sweden] could not go to the upcoming summit as a partner state,” explained Stoicescu. “The others would look at them and ask, ‘How are things going with that memorandum — have you ratified it? You had almost two years to do it.’”

But what if NATO has to come to the Baltic States’ aid and asks Sweden for permission to use their territory? According to Dr. Mike Winnerstig, head of the Swedish Defence Research Agency’s Security Policy and Strategic Studies Department, such scenarios have been run through during training exercises, and Sweden’s stance on the issue has been asked about as well.

“Such war games are conducted in US think tanks, usually in Washington or surrounding areas,” said Winnerstig. “Swedish participants have said, or the Americans have received the reply from Swedish officials, that Sweden will presumably grant permission, but as Sweden is not a member of NATO, we cannot be sure of that.”

Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter journalist Mikael Holmström believes that in case of conflict in the Baltic Sea region, Sweden would fail to be able to remain a bystander anyway. “I believe that this is a step closer to NATO,” noted Holmström.

“In today’s world, it is difficult to avoid involvement in such conflicts regardless of whether one is a member of NATO or not,” the Swedish journalist continued. “The range of modern weapons is huge, not like during World War II.” Holmström also pointed out the fact that Finland, Sweden and the Baltic States all belong to the EU, where defense cooperation has become a more frequent subject.

Sweden ratified the Host Nation Support Agreement with the support of 291 of the Riksdag’s 349 members; 21 members voted against it.

Editor: Aili Sarapik

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