Joint ownership of weaponry is a central part of Sweden’s vision for Nordic Defence cooperation, the country’s Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Defence write in a comment in newspaper Dagens Nyheter. Foreign Minister Carl Bildt and Defence Minister Karin Enström underline that the Nordic neighborhoods are getting increasingly important and that the Nordic countries therefore should joint efforts in the field of foreign policy, national security and defence.
“We want to create a more efficient use of resources, higher quality, better effects and an expanded variety of defence capabilities through cooperation”, the two ministers write. “Joint ownership and use of military capacities and resources, so-called pooling and sharing, is a central part of the Swedish vision for a Nordic defence cooperation”, they underline.
With their high stress on Nordic neighborhood areas, the two ministers implicitly point both at the current complex challenges in Arctic waters, as well as at the complicated relationship with Russia. “Sweden has an interest in strengthening the values which are connected with a modern democratic society”, Bildt and Enström say. “It is about human rights, freedom of speech and the rule of law”, they underline, thereby indirectly criticizing Moscow for its current democratic practices.
The Finnish side positively responds to the Swedish proposal. Defence Minister Carl Haglund says to Yle that the possible conclusion of a treaty with Sweden is worth thorough examination, but believes that such an agreement can come only after “several years”.
“Indeed, in practice this would mean that we should have some kind of defense agreement with Sweden, because we would be talking about crucial capabilities, for example in the navy or the air force,” Haglund says.
At the same time, the Finns are reluctant to get Norway on board. Haglund underlines that “in any case, Nordic NATO member countries should not be included in this cooperation”.
Also Finnish Foreign Minister argues that the expanded Nordic military cooperation is possible, Yle writes.
Over the last five years, the five Nordic countries have taken big steps in strengthening military cooperation. A report edited by former Norwegian foreign minister Thorvald Stoltenberg in 2009 outlines 13 fields of potential defence and foreign policy cooperation, including the formalization of a Nordic solidarity declaration. Several of the report’s recommendations have been implemented. As reported by BarentsObserver, the Stoltenberg report has a strong focus on the Arctic.