Sweden's ambassador: “This is due to German history after the Second World War” | EUROtoday

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VEronika Wand-Danielsson has been the Swedish ambassador to Germany since August 2023. Previously, she was ambassador in Paris for six years and represented Sweden at NATO from 2007 to 2014.

WELT: Madam Ambassador, as a result of blockades by Turkey and Hungary, Sweden's accession to NATO took for much longer than deliberate, however your nation – along with Finland – submitted the appliance simply three months after Russia's invasion of Ukraine. In Germany, nonetheless, the specter of the state of affairs nonetheless doesn’t appear to have reached everybody's minds. What is totally different in Sweden?

Veronika Wand-Danielsson: In Sweden as in Germany there was a turning level. The cause why issues occurred so shortly for us was that we had lengthy seen the menace from Russia. First by way of the Georgia conflict in 2008. Even then, our skepticism about Russia was nice. We noticed one another confirmed in 2014 after the annexation of Crimea. The rhetoric in Sweden has modified since then, throughout the events, together with the Social Democrats. In addition, we now have lengthy been recurrently coping with Russian submarines within the Baltic Sea and our waters and with violations of our airspace by Russia. We had been in a position to observe how Moscow grew to become increasingly aggressive, and the way the home political state of affairs in Russia and the safety state of affairs within the Baltic Sea area deteriorated increasingly. It was then clear that we needed to do extra for our armaments.

“Historic day” – Hungary’s parliament approves Sweden’s accession to NATO

Hungary has agreed to admit Sweden into NATO as the last alliance member. The parliament in Budapest approved the Scandinavian country's accession with a large majority. Swedish Prime Minister Kristersson spoke of a “historic day”.

WELT: What did that appear to be in observe?

Wand-Danielsson: At that point there was no consensus in Sweden for NATO membership, however for cooperating as carefully as potential with the alliance. Sweden has bilateral safety agreements, together with with the USA and Finland. We work carefully with Helsinki when it comes to intelligence and the Navy. We had already adopted a solidarity clause in 2009 with a declaration of help for the Nordic and EU international locations – a form of “Mini Nordic Article 5” (obligation to supply help inside NATO, editor's be aware). On the opposite hand, we knew that NATO would additionally help us militarily and logistically wanted if, for instance, the Balts had been to be attacked.

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WELT: Now Germany can also be a neighbor of the Baltic Sea, however appears to attract fully totally different conclusions from the Russian presence there…

Wand-Danielsson: Germany, like France, is a significant European energy and possibly felt much less threatened. At that point there was the Normandy format to speak to Moscow concerning the situation of Ukraine, with Germany, France, Russia and Ukraine (2014 to February 10, 2022, ed.). At first we had been reassured that the massive gamers had been taking this into their very own palms to make sure that the Russian assault on Ukraine and Crimea didn’t develop. Then we noticed that not a lot got here out of it. Incidentally, Sweden based the so-called Eastern Partnership along with Poland in 2009, and we now have been carefully linked to Ukraine ever since. All of this was additionally conveyed to the Swedish inhabitants, who adopted the altering state of affairs and subsequently supported the political selections. The Germans, then again, noticed “normal” political and financial relations with Russia for a very long time, many conferences between Angela Merkel and Vladimir Putin – and no main menace.

WELT: How will NATO change with the accession of Sweden and Finland?

Wand-Danielsson: Sweden can be a really assured new member. We have been making ready for this for a very long time; there’s already a excessive stage of interoperability with the armies of the opposite NATO states. And we now have a powerful transatlantic orientation. We take our process very severely: for 2023/24 we now have elevated our protection spending by 28 p.c. After the tip of the Cold War, Sweden diminished its funds and its share of gross home product fell to 1 p.c. It is at present 2.1 p.c and we wish to improve this determine additional.

A Swedish soldier during a joint exercise with other northerners

A Swedish soldier throughout a joint train with different northerners

Quelle: image alliance / TT NEWS AGENCY

WELT: What precisely ought to that appear to be?

Wand-Danielsson: By 2030, our military must be 100,000 sturdy in an emergency, together with reservists and residential guards (group inside the armed forces, editor). We reintroduced conscription, which we abolished after the tip of the Cold War, in 2018 in response to the annexation of Crimea in 2014. The predominant process now’s to construct capability, buy new fighter plane and a brand new submarine. Our aim is 5 military brigades. A Panzergrenadier battalion can be completely stationed in Latvia.

WELT: What is the connection between the Nordic and Baltic international locations?

Wand-Danielsson: There is a giant change below the present authorities, Nordic-Baltic cooperation. The Baltic Sea area is changing into more and more essential militarily and economically. As a consequence of the conflict in Ukraine, the 5 Nordic international locations – Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden – in addition to Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have determined to deepen their cooperation because the Nordic Baltic 8 group (NB8) and to behave collectively as a bunch and to behave. The eight international ministers had been not too long ago in India to characterize our frequent pursuits there.

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GOTLAND, SWEDEN, JUNE 09: US and Swedish troops evacuate a wounded comrade on a helicopter as they take part of a war simulation called “the battle of Bro” during the Baltops 22, the Baltic’s year military exercise including more than forty-five maritime units, more than seventy-five aircrafts and approximately seven thousand personnel of sixteen nations in Gotland, Sweden, June 09th, 2022. Narciso Contreras / Anadolu Agency

WELT: French President Emmanuel Macron has touched on a taboo and has not dominated out sending troopers to Ukraine. How does Sweden assist Ukraine – maybe with troopers in some unspecified time in the future?

Wand-Danielsson: Sweden has simply put collectively its fifteenth assist package deal. We help Ukraine as a lot as we will, financially and militarily; based on surveys, 93 p.c of the inhabitants helps this. Sweden is coaching Ukrainian troopers on our JAS Gripen fighter plane, however up to now outdoors Ukraine. I see “boots on the ground” as a reasonably delicate query; it’s not on the Swedish agenda.

WELT: And the supply of Taurus cruise missiles, which Chancellor Olaf Scholz has simply rejected once more? After all, this can be a German-Swedish growth.

Wand-Danielsson: Sweden itself doesn’t but have any Taurus. But former Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson, a Social Democrat and now within the opposition, simply known as for Gripen fighter jets to be despatched to Ukraine too.

The Swedish fighter aircraft JAS Gripen

The Swedish fighter plane JAS Gripen

Quelle: image alliance / TT NEWS AGENCY?N

WELT: There appears to be a worry amongst Scholz, in massive components of the SPD and likewise among the many inhabitants of angering or irritating Putin. This is seemingly not the case in Sweden or Finland.

Wand-Danielsson: I believe this is because of German historical past after the Second World War. It is characterised by nice army restraint, a powerful peace motion, and army and political disarmament. The manner out took small steps, and now abruptly there’s a conflict very shut. There is unrest in Sweden, however not worry. It is evident to us: Ukraine should not lose below any circumstances. Europe made the error of not responding adequately to Putin's aggression in 2008 and once more in 2014. We can’t settle for Putin waging a conflict of aggression and conquering one other nation's territory once more. The aim should be for Russia to withdraw from Crimea and Donbass. In this regard, we’re 150 p.c behind Ukraine.

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WELT: Is Sweden afraid of Donald Trump's re-election?

Wand-Danielsson: No. For one factor, the election is a matter for Americans. On the opposite hand, we now have lengthy had sturdy transatlantic relationships. This goes throughout all events, all through society, everybody in Sweden grows up with it. A second Trump time period could possibly be totally different than the primary. But at the moment, Sweden deepened army cooperation with the USA, expanded the protection and safety coverage space, and likewise expanded financial relations. Of course, Trump's statements typically increase eyebrows in Sweden, however we don't place every thing that’s stated throughout the marketing campaign on the gold scales. The USA additionally wants Europe, economically and militarily – particularly whether it is orienting itself extra in direction of Asia. When Hungary paved the best way for Sweden to hitch NATO, many Republicans additionally congratulated us. So we await the election in November, we’re left there.