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2022-May-16  14:05

Sweden Follows Finland in Announcing NATO Membership Bid

TEHRAN (FNA)- Sweden has officially decided to apply for NATO membership, the country's ruling Social-Democratic Party stated on Sunday.

"The Social Democrats will thereby work to ensure that Sweden, if the application is approved, expresses unilateral reservations against the deployment of nuclear weapons and permanent bases on Swedish territory," the party said in its statement, Sputnik reported.

The government also clarified that, in the event of Sweden's bid being accepted, Stockholm would express "unilateral reservations against the deployment of nuclear weapons and permanent bases on Swedish territory".

Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde took to Twitter to mark the "historic" decision. According to her, Sweden's move toward the alliance was prompted by the "Russian invasion of Ukraine" which "has deteriorated the security situation for Sweden and Europe as a whole".

Shortly after the party issued its statement, Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson held a press conference, explaining that Stockholm will abandon its 200-year-long neutrality policy due to Russia's military operation in Ukraine.

"If Sweden becomes the only country in the Baltic Sea region that is not a member of NATO, we would end up in a very vulnerable position. We cannot rule out [the possibility that] Russia would increase the pressure on Sweden," she asserted.

Andersson also added that the NATO bid does not change Stockholm's attitude towards disarmament and nuclear weapons, confirming that Sweden will have reservations against the placement of nuclear weapons on its territory.

Hours earlier on Sunday, Helsinki announced a similar NATO membership bid, with the government declaring "a new era" for the previously neutral country.

The two Scandinavian nation's move toward NATO has been welcomed by the alliance members, with countries like Latvia, Estonia, the United States and others voicing their support of Stockholm and Helsinki joining the bloc. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg stated that both Sweden and Finland will be "welcomed with open arms".

Linde earlier noted that Washington offered Stockholm security guarantees for the period of the country's application being reviewed.

Among those opposing Sweden and Finland joining the alliance is Turkey, with Ankara claiming that Stockholm and Helsinki back Kurdish militants it deems terrorists.

The leader of the ruling party in Italy, Matteo Salvini, also spoke out against the accession of Stockholm and Helsinki to NATO, arguing that "everything that delays the process of achieving peace should be put on a waiting list".

According to a survey conducted by Novus, 53 percent of Swedes back the idea of joining NATO while 23 percent are against and 24% remain unsure. Similarly, 64 percent believe the country should join the alliance if neighbouring Finland does.