Sweden's NATO membership is 'begging of process' – ambassador to Vilnius

  • 2024-03-08
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS – Sweden "will make a constructive and loyal member" of NATO and its accession marks "the begging of the process", Lars Wahlund, Stockholm's ambassador to Vilnius, said on Friday after his country officially became the 32nd member of the Alliance. 

Wahlund was speaking after the Swedish flag was raised in front of the Defense Ministry in Vilnius to "welcome and congratulate" the Nordic neighbor on its accession to NATO, the ministry said in a press release. 

According to the ambassador, Sweden's policy of minimizing tensions "was cut short in December 2021 by Vladimir Putin's letter questioning our right to choose our own security policy path" and "later the brutal Russia's attack against Ukraine followed".

"Sweden's membership of NATO is not the end: it's the begging of the process. We are getting security guarantees and providing security guarantees. Sweden will make a constructive and loyal member of NATO," he was quoted as saying in the press release. 

Lithuanian Defense Minister Arvydas Anusauskas said that Sweden's membership is important not only for the security situation in the Baltic Sea region, but also because the country's "military capabilities will significantly strengthen deterrence in peacetime and crisis, contribute to stability not just in our region but the entire Alliance". 

"Russia's masterplan to undermine NATO backfired: our Alliance has become stronger, our bilateral cooperation ties closer, and each of us is feeling safer. We are certain that we would defend every inch of NATO territory in the event of aggression," he was quoted as saying in the press release. 

Sweden and Finland, while militarily linked with the United States and both EU members, had historically steered clear of joining NATO, which was formed during the Cold War to unite against the Soviet Union.

However, the two Nordic countries formally applied to join the Alliance after Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

Finland successfully joined in April 2023, but Sweden's membership was stalled by Turkey.

The US Department of State on Thursday published a document certifying that Sweden had officially become a member of NATO.