During the Nordic Defence Ministers’ meeting in Stockholm on 10 November, the Minister for Defence, Peter Hultqvist (S), said that cooperation between the Nordic countries will be increased. and that cooperation with NATO will be expanded. “It concerns exercises, exchange of information and building up military capability. The partnership we have with NATO is very important in terms of building up our military capability”, he told Sveriges Radio. However, Hultqvist denied that this means that Sweden is approaching a formal membership in the alliance. “We are a non-aligned country and we have chosen non-alignment. This is the best way to contribute to long-term stability and peace in our part of Europe”, he argued. Following a meeting with the Prime Minister, Stefan Löfven, Mr. Stoltenberg described Sweden as “one of NATO’s most active partners” and said that NATO had strengthened ties with Sweden and Finland to boost situational awareness, increase defence against hybrid warfare, and do more joint training and exercises to strengthen security in the region. In addition, the Secretary General praised Sweden’s strong commitment to international security, including its participation in NATO missions in Afghanistan and Kosovo, according to a NATO press release.
Mr Stoltenberg’s trip coincides with a two-day meeting of the Nordic defence cooperation group, NORDEFCO, attended by representatives from Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Finland and Denmark, as well as partners from the Baltic states. Polish and UK officials are also attending the talks. At yesterday’s meeting, ministers agreed to create completely secure communications between the countries and also to conduct numerous complex military exercises together. “We are planning for a Northern flag exercise, a major air exercise. This is an important security policy signal, which also involves the US”, Hultqvist told SVT. After the meeting, Sweden will hand over the rotating presidency of NORDEFCO to Denmark.