Historic visit – but ongoing disagreement over NATO

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Published: Today 12.46

Updated: Less than 30 minutes ago

Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson and moderate party leader Ulf Kristersson during the Cold Response military exercise in northern Norway.

1 of 3Photo: Anders Wiklund / TT

Physically, Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson (S) and Ulf Kristersson of the Moderates were side by side.

On the NATO issue, however, the two are still very far apart – that doesn’t change a joint military visit to Norway.

It was some kind of historical event. In a valley in northern Norway, further north of the Swedish border, the two politicians gave a joint speech to Swedish soldiers on the spot.

In normal cases, disagreements over most things in politics have now been expressed thanks to the approximately 1,500 Swedish soldiers participating alongside Finnish army units.

– We may disagree on many things, but we are both fighting for the security of Sweden. This was a very important visit. Given the context we have with the security situation in Europe, this exercise sends a message of preparation and cooperation, the Prime Minister said, referring obviously to the war in Ukraine.

– I appreciate that we could do this together. When there is war in Europe, we do everything we can to cooperate, Kristersson replied.

The Prime Minister invited Kristersson to visit the defense exercise, which is called Cold Response and is part of the NATO Partnership for Peace project with a total of 30,000 soldiers from 27 countries on site.

We had lunch together

The name of the defense exercise was also appropriate given the weather, the freezing wind and the rain, at least initially in the morning when the two politicians showed up around the area and, among other things, had lunch with the conscripts.

On the NATO issue, Ulf Kristersson recently came out and announced that the moderates must submit a NATO application if the party wins the elections and if there is a parliamentary majority in the matter and among other things he said “Social Democrats cannot have a veto on the issue “.

– On the part of the government and the Social Democrats, we try to work broadly to be able to agree on politically important issues and the line of security policy. We have worked towards this and will continue to do so, Andersson said at the press conference and also highlighted the security policy review that is now underway.

– There we will work closely.

Ulf Kristersson:

– It would continue to be positive with broad consensus beyond the borders of the blocs. My basic belief is still that if we can do it together, it is an advantage, but in a democracy, as I said, there is no right of veto.

Support moderates

Among other parliamentary parties, Liberals and party leader Nyamko Sabuni announced this weekend that they support moderates in the matter, which in theory could mean that the Swedish Democrats will become leaders of the wave. However, he doesn’t want to specifically comment on what opportunities Kristersson has to get SD on the train:

– I hope that all parties, just like in Finland, show significant openness. I think it would be best for Sweden too.

TT: Could it be a topic for a referendum?

– Basically, I don’t know anyone who thinks it’s a natural matter for a referendum. If we reach a broad political agreement, that will not be necessary, but together with Finland we will have a process in which we in Sweden will also land to make such a decision.

After the press conference, the two could at least agree on something completely different. It was fantastic fun driving one of the Defense 90 combat vehicles. The Prime Minister first sat behind the levers and did two laps with the 23 ton tank, then got out and Ulf Kristersson sat down and, at a much higher speed speed, hesitated M the leader even to make a sharp left turn, at least not with the vehicle.

Asked by TT what is more difficult, driving a combat vehicle or conducting budget negotiations, Andersson also replied:

– It depends on what budget negotiations look like, if you have money or not, but it’s more fun and you get more fresh air.


Cold response

Cold Response is the name of a military exercise within the NATO Partnership for Peace project.

The exercise first took place in 2006.

This year’s edition is the ninth consecutive and will take place from 14 to 31 March.

A total of 30,000 soldiers from 27 countries participate. Of these, 14,000 belong to land forces, 8,000 naval units and the same number to the air forces of various countries.

For the Swedish side, a reduced-brigade battle group participates, about 1,500 soldiers organized together with units of the Finnish army.

The Swedish group comes from the Norrbotten Regiment, the Norrland Dragon Regiment and the Boden Artillery Regiment.

In addition to the Swedish ground units, the aviation also participates with units of the Norrbotten air flotilla, F 21, with Jas 39 Gripen aircraft.

Source: Governments.se and the Norwegian Armed Forces website.

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Published: March 21, 2022 at 12.46

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