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Sweden is not a member of the international military alliance NATO. Nevertheless, this week Sweden is the host nation for a major conference between NATO nations. At that time, King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden gave an audience to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.
The audience lasted just under 15 minutes and Stoltenberg was able to tell the press that he and the Swedish monarch have discussed the security situation in Northern Europe. Stoltenberg, who was previously Norwegian Prime Minister, has met the Swedish king many times before and they have a good relationship.
The meeting took place on the same day, October 26, 2021, when Russia’s Foreign Minister during a visit to Norway said that NATO was not Russia’s friend during a meeting of the Barents Council. Two-year ministerial meetings of the Barents Council rotate between the member states of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the European Commission. Nine countries have observer status. Cross-border regional Barents cooperation began in January 1993, one year after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
The Secretary General of NATO is currently visiting Sweden and Finland together with a delegation from NATO’s highest decision-making body, the North Atlantic Council. On Tuesday, the delegation also visited the Swedish Prime Minister, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of Defense, the Minister of the Interior and the Swedish Parliament. NAC’s visit to Sweden ends in the Stockholm archipelago where the naval exercise SWENEX takes place, which is a collaboration between the Swedish and Finnish Armed Forces.
In 1949, Sweden chose not to join NATO and instead declared a security policy focused on freedom of alliance in peace and neutrality in war. Since the 1990s, and the end of the Cold War, however, there have been discussions in Sweden about NATO with the country joining NATO’s Partnership for Peace in 1994. In December 2006, Sweden was invited to join NATO’s response force.
While the governing parties in Sweden have opposed membership, they have participated in NATO-led missions in Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Libya. According to a survey conducted by Sifo in June 2016, more Swedes are against Swedish NATO membership than for one.