April 18. 2024. 1:23

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Swedish defence to get extra €58 million for NATO accession expenses

Swedish Armed Forces will receive SEK 660 million (€58 million) in increased funding this year to pay for its much-expected NATO accession, Swedish Defence Minister Pål Jonson said on Wednesday.

The additional funding includes the NATO membership fee of just over SEK 300 million (€26 million) and the costs of adapting various command and control systems to the defence alliance.

“Sweden must take steps to strengthen its defence capability,” Jonson told a press conference on Wednesday.

He emphasised the importance of progressing in the Swedish armament programme while Russian ground troops are tied up in Ukraine.

At the same time, the government is also proposing that the Defence Forces can order an additional SEK 16.7 billion (€1.4 billion) worth of various weapon systems and defence material until 2033 – making it possible to finance upgrades to the Jas Gripen fighter jet, for example.

This will allow for additional defence equipment orders as early as 2023, Oscar Sjöstedt, economic policy spokesperson for the far-right Sweden Democrats, has said.

“It is, therefore, very important that the Swedish Armed Forces can place further orders for equipment as soon as possible,” he said, adding that military rearmament is currently taking place in many countries.

“With today’s announcement, we have greater freedom of action regarding security and defence policy,” Jonson added.

According to the defence minister, Sweden is expected to join NATO even if parliamentary ratification from Hungary and Turkey is still missing. While the Hungarian parliament is expected to soon vote on the matter, the Turkish veto still hangs in the air, given the ongoing dispute between Ankara and Stockholm.

In January, right-wing Danish-Swedish politician Rasmus Paludan burned a Quran outside the Turkish embassy.

His move has prompted massive demonstrations across the Muslim world and soured relations between Stockholm and Ankara. Turkish President Erdogan is now demanding Sweden change its laws to make such Quran burning illegal.

According to Swedish law, burning a book such as the Quran falls under the protection of freedom of speech. (Charles Szumski | EURACTIV.com)