Finland became the 31st country in NATO. Sweden, another country in the north of Europe, seems to be left alone. The moves to be made by the Stockholm administration after this membership are very critical because Finland’s borders with Russia now form the new borders of NATO.
NATO is an organization that seeks to work together to increase security and stability by calling for member states to increase their defense spending and strengthen the alliance’s defense capability. Turkey, which has one of the largest armies in NATO, is an important ally and a country with a strategic position. So much so that Turkey’s security concerns were also influential in the process of Finland and Sweden becoming members of NATO. Today, Sweden is in a process where these concerns are expected to be resolved. The next moves of the Stockholm administration are very important. Head of Ankara Center for Crisis and Policy Studies (ANKASAM), Sweden, a non-NATO country in the north of Europe. Dr. We talked to Mehmet Seyfettin Erol.
“The pressure will increase on Sweden”
prof. Dr. Pointing out that Russia will harden its rhetoric after its expanding borders, Erol states that Sweden will feel more pressured:
“With Finland’s accomplished membership, Sweden remains the only state in the Nordic region that is not a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). This situation will make Sweden feel lonely in the region psychologically. Because Russia will harden its rhetoric and attitude due to Finland’s membership. At this point, it is possible to say that the pressure on Sweden will increase.”
“Russia is an important threat to Sweden”
Sweden’s land-bound neighbors are NATO countries, but Erol touches on the security problem in the Baltic Sea. He says that in this case, Russia still poses a threat to Sweden:
“Although by land Finland and Norway via the Arctic geopolitically act as buffer zones for Sweden against the Russian threat, the Baltic Sea is an unprotected area. Because the sea in question St. It is obvious that Russia, which has the opportunity to open up through the city of St. Petersburg and Kaliningrad, will continue to be seen as an important threat to Sweden. Because in October 2014, an underwater vehicle was seen off the coast of Stockholm, the capital of Sweden. During this period, it was claimed that the vehicle in question was a Russian submarine. It is possible that a similar situation will occur again.”
On the other hand, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu announced that he would increase his country’s military capacity and military presence in the region close to Finland. prof. Dr. Erol said, “Russia has the military capacity to hit Sweden, even if there is a buffer zone in between. “These factors cause Russia to still be seen as a source of threat and deepen security concerns in Sweden.”
“The pressure on Stockholm will increase”
So, what does this security issue mean for Stockholm? According to Erol, Sweden’s security concerns will continue. The Stockholm administration will have to redesign its domestic and foreign policy in this context.
“Turkey’s demand for ‘stopping support for terrorist organizations’ and Hungary’s desire for mutual respect will force Sweden to adopt a policy in this direction. Therefore, Sweden will have tacitly accepted the criticisms directed at it. In addition, it can be argued that the domestic politics in the country will become tougher and the pressure on the Stockholm administration will increase. As a result, it can be said that Sweden will have to make a choice between security concerns, external demands and internal reactions and will take steps within the framework of the first two factors.
“The crisis environment in Europe may deepen”
“It is thought that Russia will make various statements about the region and carry out military exercises to show its seriousness towards Finland’s membership,” said Erol, adding that this situation will also put Europe in a difficult position.
“Europe is struggling with various problems, especially economy and energy. The Russian threat intensifying in the north means an increase in military expenditures towards the region. This may deepen the crisis environment in Europe. Such a conjuncture will further strain relations between Europe and Russia and make it easier for the United States to build its influence.”
“Sweden’s goal will be NATO membership”
Finally, Prof. Dr. The point that Erol underlines is that the Swedish administration will act to end its loneliness in the region as soon as possible. “For this reason, in order to become a member of NATO, it will ignore the public’s reactions, it will have to cut its support to terrorist organizations and take into account the demands for mutual respect,” he says. He states that Sweden’s goal is to become a member of the organization until the NATO Summit, which will be held in Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, in July 2023.