By Simon Johnson and Johan Ahlander
STOCKHOLM (Reuters) -Swedish membership of NATO would boost national security and help stabilise the Nordic and Baltic regions, Foreign Minister Ann Linde said on Friday, a day after neighbour Finland said it would seek to join the U.S.-led alliance without delay.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has forced Sweden – and its closest military partner Finland – to publicly pick sides after remaining outside the military alliance since it was founded in 1949 to counter the Soviet Union in the Cold War.
Stockholm is widely expected to follow Helsinki’s lead and could apply for entry to the 30-nation North Atlantic Treaty Organization as early as Monday.
“Swedish NATO membership would raise the threshold for military conflicts and thus have a conflict-preventing effect in northern Europe,” Linde told reporters as she presented the conclusions of an all-party security review that examined the pros and cons of NATO membership for Sweden.
“The most important consequence of Swedish membership of NATO would be that Sweden would be a part of NATO’s collective security and included in security guarantees according to…Article 5.”
Article 5 of NATO’s founding treaty says that an attack on any NATO country should be seen as an attack on all.
While Sweden and Finland have long had close relations with NATO and regularly take part in exercises and its high-level meetings, they are not covered by its security guarantee.
The government said the report did not constitute a recommendation to join NATO.
The Left and Greens were the only parties that did not support the report’s conclusions.
An application would have to be approved by all NATO countries and, later, by Sweden’s parliament.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday it was not possible for NATO-member Turkey to support Swedish and Finnish membership because, he said, the two countries were “home to many terrorist organisations”. [L5N2X53HU]
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