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Biden is hosting Sweden’s prime minister at the White House in a show of support for its NATO bid

by Chloe Baker
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NATO bid

President Joe Biden is set to welcome Sweden’s prime minister to the White House as a demonstration of support for Sweden’s NATO aspirations. The meeting, scheduled a week before the NATO summit, aims to showcase solidarity between the United States and Sweden and emphasize the U.S. push for Sweden’s prompt inclusion in the alliance.

The White House released a statement announcing the meeting, stating that President Biden and Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson will discuss the deepening security cooperation between the two countries and reiterate their shared belief that Sweden should join NATO as soon as possible. Additionally, the leaders will address the ongoing conflict in Ukraine involving Russia and matters concerning China.

Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Sweden, along with neighboring Finland, abandoned their longstanding policy of military nonalignment and applied for NATO membership, seeking the organization’s protective security measures.

In recent news, President Biden’s hosting of Sweden’s prime minister at the White House has garnered attention as Sweden seeks NATO membership. Furthermore, there have been protests at the Swedish Embassy in Baghdad over a Quran-burning incident, Ukrainian President Zelenskyy has met with Greta Thunberg and others to discuss the environmental impact of the war, and NATO’s chief has initiated talks in an effort to persuade Turkey to approve Sweden’s membership.

Finland, which shares a significant border with Russia, became a NATO member in April. However, Sweden, known for its avoidance of military alliances for over two centuries, has faced obstacles from Turkey and Hungary, as unanimous approval from all NATO members is required for expansion.

Hopes were initially high that Sweden’s membership would be addressed before the upcoming NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, as it would represent a powerful symbolic moment and highlight how Russia’s actions are driving countries to join the alliance. Unfortunately, these hopes have diminished.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been resistant, accusing Sweden of being too tolerant toward groups his government deems security threats, including militant Kurdish organizations and individuals linked to a 2016 coup attempt in Turkey. Erdogan recently criticized Sweden for a Quran-burning protest, with Swedish police permitting the demonstration based on freedom of speech following a court ruling.

To address Turkey’s objections, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg plans to convene senior officials from Turkey, Sweden, and Finland. Hungary has also yet to ratify Sweden’s bid, with a parliamentary vote postponed until the autumn legislative session. The Hungarian government has accused Swedish politicians of spreading falsehoods about the state of Hungary’s democracy, expressing conditional support for Sweden’s membership.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about NATO bid

What is the purpose of President Biden hosting Sweden’s prime minister at the White House?

President Biden is hosting Sweden’s prime minister at the White House to demonstrate support for Sweden’s NATO bid and emphasize the United States’ backing for their inclusion in the alliance.

What will be discussed during the meeting between President Biden and Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson?

During the meeting, President Biden and Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson will discuss the deepening security cooperation between the United States and Sweden. They will also reaffirm their shared view that Sweden should join NATO as soon as possible. Additionally, the leaders will address the ongoing conflict in Ukraine involving Russia and matters concerning China.

Why has Sweden’s ascension to NATO been delayed?

Sweden’s ascension to NATO has been delayed primarily due to resistance from Turkey and Hungary. NATO requires unanimous approval from all its members for expansion, and these countries have expressed concerns or imposed conditions regarding Sweden’s bid.

What obstacles has Sweden faced in its NATO bid?

Sweden has faced resistance from Turkey, which accuses Sweden of being lenient towards groups it considers security threats. Turkey has raised concerns about Sweden’s approach to militant Kurdish organizations and individuals associated with a 2016 coup attempt in Turkey. Hungary has also yet to ratify Sweden’s bid, alleging that Swedish politicians have spread false information about Hungary’s democracy.

When is the NATO summit taking place, and what significance does Sweden’s entry hold for the alliance?

The NATO summit is scheduled for July 11-12 in Vilnius, Lithuania. Sweden’s entry into NATO would be symbolically significant, highlighting how Russia’s actions in Ukraine are motivating countries to join the alliance. However, hopes for Sweden’s membership to be addressed before the summit have diminished due to the obstacles posed by Turkey and Hungary.

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