While Finland joined NATO in April, Hungary’s pending ratification makes Sweden the expected Scandinavian newcomer.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has been a cornerstone of transatlantic security since its establishment in 1949. Over the years, NATO has expanded its membership to include countries from various regions, strengthening its collective defense and promoting stability in Europe. With recent geopolitical developments, the question arises: Which Scandinavian nation is expected to be the next to join NATO?
Scandinavia, known for its strong commitment to peace and neutrality, has traditionally maintained a cautious approach towards military alliances. However, the changing security landscape in the region has prompted discussions about the potential for NATO membership among Scandinavian nations.
The Current NATO Member States
Before delving into the prospects of a Scandinavian nation joining NATO, let’s first take a look at the current member states. As of now, NATO consists of 30 member countries, primarily from Europe and North America. These nations have committed to the principle of collective defense, pledging to come to the aid of any member state that is attacked.
In Scandinavia, Norway and Denmark are already NATO members, having joined the alliance in 1949 and 1949, respectively. Sweden and Finland, on the other hand, have maintained a policy of military non-alignment, choosing not to join any military alliance, including NATO.
Sweden: A Shift in Security Policy
Sweden, long known for its neutrality and non-alignment, has seen a shift in its security policy in recent years. The deteriorating security situation in the Baltic Sea region, including Russia’s annexation of Crimea and increased military activity in the area, has raised concerns among Swedish policymakers.
In response to these developments, Sweden has taken steps to enhance its defense capabilities and deepen its cooperation with NATO. The country has increased defense spending, reintroduced conscription, and participated in joint military exercises with NATO member states. While Sweden remains officially non-aligned, these actions indicate a growing alignment with NATO’s security objectives.
Public opinion in Sweden also reflects a changing attitude towards NATO. According to surveys, support for NATO membership has been steadily increasing in recent years. However, any decision to join NATO would require a broad political consensus and a referendum, as public support remains divided on the issue.
Finland: Balancing Neutrality and Security
Like Sweden, Finland has a longstanding tradition of neutrality and non-alignment. However, Finland shares a 1,340-kilometer border with Russia, which makes it particularly sensitive to security concerns in the region.
While Finland maintains a policy of military non-alignment, it has deepened its cooperation with NATO through the Partnership for Peace program. This program allows non-NATO countries to engage in political dialogue and practical cooperation with the alliance.
Finland’s relationship with NATO is characterized by a delicate balancing act between maintaining its neutrality and ensuring its security. The country has increased defense spending, participated in joint military exercises, and signed agreements on defense cooperation with NATO member states. However, any decision to join NATO would require careful consideration of its implications for Finland’s neutrality and regional stability.
The Next Scandinavian NATO Member?
While the prospects of a Scandinavian nation joining NATO are not yet certain, the evolving security environment in the region suggests that it may become a reality in the future.
Sweden, with its shifting security policy and growing alignment with NATO, appears to be the more likely candidate for NATO membership among the Scandinavian nations. However, the decision ultimately rests on political consensus and public support.
Finland, with its delicate balancing act between neutrality and security, may also consider NATO membership if the security situation in the Baltic Sea region continues to deteriorate. However, any decision would require careful consideration of its implications for Finland’s longstanding policy of non-alignment.
As the geopolitical landscape continues to evolve, the question of which Scandinavian nation will be the next to join NATO remains open. The decision will have significant implications for regional security and NATO’s role in the Baltic Sea region.
In conclusion, while the Scandinavian nations have traditionally maintained a cautious approach towards military alliances, the changing security environment in the region has prompted discussions about NATO membership. Sweden, with its shifting security policy and growing alignment with NATO, appears to be the more likely candidate for NATO membership among the Scandinavian nations. However, the decision ultimately rests on political consensus and public support. Finland, with its delicate balancing act between neutrality and security, may also consider NATO membership if the security situation in the Baltic Sea region continues to deteriorate.