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Big majority votes for Swedish-Nato agreement

Updated onsdag 25 maj 2016 kl 17.23
Published onsdag 25 maj 2016 kl 10.15
Defence researcher: Can be interpreted as pushback against Russia
(2:55 min)
Sweden Democrat leader Jimmie Åkesson will not support the Left Party attempt to delay the Nato vote. Photo: TT
Sweden Democrat leader Jimmie Åkesson will not support the Left Party attempt to delay the Nato vote. Photo: TT

Guards were called in to deal with protests form the public gallery, reports news agency TT, as Sweden's parliament voted in favour of closer ties with Nato.

A proposal by the Left Party to get the vote delayed was defeated by 291 votes to just 21, a foregone conclusion after the Sweden Democrat Party signalled its intention not to back the bid.

Yesterday the defence spokesperson for the nationalist Sweden Democrats had said his party would join with the Left Party and get the vote delayed a year. But today Sweden Democrat Party leader Åkesson says since 80 percent of the parliament supports the deal it would not be right to get the vote delayed. His party voted instead for its own motion opposing the the Nato agreement.

A delay of a parliamentary vote can be requested if requested by one sixth of representatives.

The Host Nation Status agreement now means the Atlantic alliance's forces can be based in Swedish territory and supported by Swedish resources.

Sweden has moved closer to Nato since the end of the Cold War, and operates closely with the alliance in exercises and peacekeeping missions, although without formal membership Sweden does not have the right to call on Nato for protection.

Nato has long been opposed in Sweden by supporters of Swedish traditional neutrality, pacifists, or opponents of what they see as American-led imperialism; plus many object strongly to any idea that Nato forces might station nuclear weapons in Sweden.

Four members of parliament from the Greens had earlier written an open letter in Dagens Nyheter stating their intention to vote against the Nato agreement.

Kjell Engelbrekt, a researcher at the Swedish Defence University, tells Radio Sweden that the deal clarifies the legal arrangements between Sweden and Nato. And as it opens up quicker routes for snap military exercises, it could mean a more Nato presence in the Baltic Sea.

"We've had a situation in teh Baltic Sea region when the Russian side has been organizing on very short notice, snap exercises. These are interpreted as the flexing of muscles on the Russian side. Sweden and Finland have been unable to respond in any effective way. So this host nation agreement allows for responses in this context," said Engelbrekt.


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