Moderate Party launch new foreign policy
The ruling conservative Moderate Party held their annual assembly over the weekend. One of the topics of debate was Swedish foreign policy, and the result was a new party platform and policy document – the first in more than 10 years. While outlining a broad vision for Swedish foreign policy and the direction it should take, there was also focus on some more detailed topics, like NATO membership.
The party reiterated its desire for Sweden to one day become a full member state of NATO, but decided not to seek membership until there is cross party consensus.
Although not a member of NATO, Sweden has participated militarily in several NATO-led campaigns, such as Afghanistan and most recently Libya.
Proposals from some assembly participants to seek NATO membership immediately were voted down; instead it was decided to deepen Sweden’s cooperation with NATO and continue to work towards an eventual membership.
Karin Enström from the Moderate Party and chair of the parliamentary standing committee on foreign affairs tells Radio Sweden that although the party would like to see Sweden join NATO, this is something that needs to be done in consultation with other political parties and the general public, and that currently there is not broad support from either of these stakeholders.
Enström stressed the need for continued Swedish cooperation with NATO.
“We need to work together with NATO, since it is such a vital and important organisation for the security of Europe and for transatlantic relations.”
Peter Hultqvist is the chair of the parliamentary defence committee and a member of the opposition Social Democrat Party. His reaction to the Moderates’ desire to deepen relations with NATO and eventually become a member was unambiguous.
“We from the Social Democratic Party are against membership of NATO. There is no room for discussing NATO membership,” Hultqvist told Radio Sweden.
Karin Enström says that Sweden should continue to contribute to NATO campaigns like Afghanistan and Libya and that there should be “more of the same.”
Peter Hultqvist, though, does not agree. He wants Sweden to move away from such NATO-led missions and see the UN play a stronger and more prominent role in military campaigns.
The Moderate’s assembly also focused on the UN. The party wants to see a stronger UN, which more accurately reflects the 21st century. This represents a change of attitude and tone from the Moderates, who have generally regarded the UN sceptically and unenthusiastically.
“It is a very vital organisation and we would like it to be more effective. We would like to see a reformed and strengthened UN,” says Karin Enström.
One of the reforms the Moderates would like to see introduced to the UN system is an extended permanent security council, with seats for new big players like India and Brazil.
Both the ruling conservative Moderates and opposition Social Democrats therefore want to see a strengthened UN, but not in exactly the same ways or for the same reasons. And the question of Sweden’s membership to NATO is one that will certainly be discussed on many more future occasions.