What's New(s)

What's New(s) - The Nordics’ applications to join NATO

What's New(s) - The Nordics’ applications to join NATO

What´s New(s)? La revue de presse anglophone – Erik Ruiz Martín & Nadine Vermeulen

For decades Finland and Sweden shied away from NATO membership. The invasion in Ukraine has changed everything. 

What does the press write about the Nordic’s sudden move?

Indeed, a “historic swift”, that’s how the BBC described Sweden’s official decision to formally join the security alliance. Deutsche Welle added that Sweden’s quest will reverse decades of security policy. “The landmark decision comes after Sweden’s ruling Social Democrats broke a 73-year policy of non-alignment.”, argued the news outlet. “We are leaving one era and beginning another” were the words of Prime Minister Andersson herself. In November 2021, the Swedish Government saw accession to the alliance still as something “unthinkable.” The Russian invasion of Ukraine however let the country to make a U-turn in its security policy, wrote Dutch newspaper NRC. “Basta with the neutral status” firmly stated Swedish media outlet 8 sidor. Finland will probably follow the Swedish path, predicted Deutsche Welle. Finnish minister for European affairs Tytti Tuppurainen told the newspaper the government “would not let Russia intimidate” the country. “Russia cannot dictate our own national decisions,” she added. Political watchers agree that the two countries are preparing to apply together.

And does their decision to join the alliance mean that their membership will immediately be accepted?

Well, this is hard to predict. While Vladimir Putin soon responded by signalling on Monday it will tolerate Finland and Sweden joining NATO, it also warned the Kremlin would be quick to respond if the alliance installed military bases or equipment in either of the countries, wrote Financial Times. His comments seem to indicate that Russia could live with NATO membership of both countries, under the condition that the alliance does not dispatch arms or troops to the countries, as it previously did in the Baltic states and Eastern Europe, argued the newspaper. Finland already responded saying it would not set conditions before its membership, Sweden did repeatedly say it does not want military bases on its territory. The torn in the side of the applications, however, appears to be Turkey. “Turkey not in favour of Sweden and Finland in NATO” headlined Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter. The BBC quoted Tayyip Erdogan who said the two Nordic countries should not even bother sending delegations to convince Turkey. The reason for rejecting their membership application: the Nordics’ history of hosting members of Kurdish militant groups and Sweden’s suspension of arm sales to Turkey because of its military operation in Syria. NATO would become a “hatchery” for terrorists if the two countries joined, said Erdogan on Monday, quoted by the Guardian. For Sweden and Finland to join NATO, all members must say yes. France 24 however quoted US Secretary of State Blinken who said to be confident that consensus will be reached, after speaking to his Turkish counterpart. 

But then heading over from the North of Europe to France, which has named its first female Prime Minister in…30 years. How does the press describe this unique designation?

After weeks of speculation, the French President has chosen Elisabeth Borne, former Minister of Labour, to occupy the Palais de Matignon for the new term of office. Borne will be the second woman to hold the post of Prime Minister. Joelle Meskens points out in Le Soir that the only revolution in Borne's appointment lies in the fact that she is a woman, and notes that Macron has chosen a figure who cannot overshadow him. The Guardian describes her as a long-serving technocrat that has been a regular in the corridors of power for several decades. For El País, Borne is a pure product of republican meritocracy and should embody the new sensibility of President Macron. Le Monde highlights the characteristic that has propelled her to power over other candidates: she has an essential quality: she can charm the left without frightening the right.

And how did the French opposition react to this?

The truth is that the French opposition has not given the new Prime Minister a single breath of fresh air. France 24 highlights how Borne has faced frontal criticism from the opposition. Starting with Melenchon, who claims that Borne's appointment marks the beginning of a new season of social and ecological mistreatment. Ouest underlines the words of Le Pen, who claims that the appointment is a continuation of President Macron's policy of disdain, deconstruction of the state, and social and fiscal plundering.  The ecologist Julien Bayou has also made a statement, reported by Rfi, in which he says that "the fact that she is a woman is the only reason for satisfaction", given that her legacy is a condemnation of France to climate inaction. The only one who unreservedly congratulated Borne was the Republican candidate Valérie Pécresse.

Presentation : Nadine Vermeulen

Sound and editing : Jimmy Chabod 

Source images by NATO Secretary General meets with Ministers of Defence for Finland and Sweden