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Feature: Protests Against NATO Held Across Sweden

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“NATO is nothing but the war machine of the United States,” Nellie Puig, a Swede protesting his country joining the military alliance, told Xinhua in central Stockholm on Saturday.

“It is not a defensive alliance as they claim. It is an organization that runs the errands of the United States,” said Puig.

Protests against Sweden hosting a large international military exercise and the country striving to become a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) were held in 17 cities across the country on Saturday.

Several organizations and networks such as the Swedish Peace and Arbitration Society, No NATO, No to Nuclear Weapons, and political parties organized the events. Hundreds participated in the protest in Stockholm alone.

Placards and banners with messages such as “No to NATO”, “NATO’s war will get our children killed for a dollar,” and “Stop Aurora 23” — referring to an ongoing military exercise with 26,000 participants mainly from NATO member states currently hosted by Sweden — were seen as the protesters moved through the city.

“Aurora 23 and similar previous exercises prove that Sweden has become increasingly integrated with NATO and Sweden also sells arms to NATO,” said Puig.

Another participant, Krister Holm, a member of the Communist Party, told Xinhua that Sweden would be better off neutral.

“It would be better for the development of Swedish society, democracy, and culture if we were neutral. NATO is a war alliance that might drag Sweden into a conflict we do not wish to be a part of,” said Holm.

“Being a NATO member will also cost Swedish taxpayers a lot, as the defense budget will double while funding of the educational system and health care is cut,” said Holm.

Holm, as well as Puig, also expressed fears that nuclear weapons may be stored on Swedish territory when Sweden becomes a member.

“Sweden has traditionally worked for nuclear disarmament,” Holm said, adding that once Sweden becomes a NATO member, “politicians would have to reconsider their position.”

A majority of Swedes have traditionally been negative towards joining NATO, but this changed following the escalation of the Russia-Ukraine conflict in February 2022.

Sweden dropped its decades-long policies of military non-alignment and applied to join NATO last May, when a poll showed that opinion had shifted to a majority of Swedes, about 53 percent, being pro-NATO. And a poll conducted by Statistics Sweden last November showed that 67.8 percent Swedes were quite or very positive about NATO.

However, many Swedes are still concerned about the negative consequences of their country being a member of the military alliance. Partly because Russia had made it clear that “there can be no more talk of any nuclear-free status for the Baltics” should Sweden, and Finland, join NATO.

On March, 22, the Swedish parliament, Riksdagen, voted in favor of the country to join NATO, but so far, NATO members Hungary and Türkiye have yet to give a green light to Sweden’s accession.

Holm said that although Sweden will likely become a NATO member, the campaign against Sweden being a member will not stop.

“We will continue to fight against it and when Sweden becomes a (NATO) member state, we will strive for secession,” Holm said.

Source : Xinhua

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