NATO’s relations with Sweden

  • Last updated 04/03/2009 14:03

NATO-Sweden relations should be viewed through the Partnership for Peace framework which Sweden joined in 1994. NATO and Sweden actively cooperate in peace and security operations and have developed practical cooperation in many other areas. An Individual Partnership Programme (IPP) lays out the programme of cooperation between Sweden and NATO.

Swedish cooperation with NATO is based on a longstanding policy of military non-alignment and a firm national consensus. From this basis, the Sweden selects areas of cooperation with NATO that match joint objectives.

NATO values very highly its relations with Sweden. The Allies view Sweden as an effective and pro-active partner and contributor to international security, which shares key values such as the promotion of international security, democracy and human rights.

An important area of cooperation is the country’s support for NATO-led operations. Sweden is currently contributing to the peacekeeping operations in Kosovo and Afghanistan. In the past, it supported the NATO-led operation in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Framework for cooperation

NATO and Sweden detail areas of cooperation and timelines in Sweden’s Individual Partnership Programme (IPP), which is jointly agreed for a two-year period. Key areas include security and peacekeeping cooperation, crisis management and civil emergency planning.

Participation in the PfP Planning and Review Process (PARP) is enhancing Sweden’s ability to take part in peace-support operations.

Key areas of cooperation

Security cooperation

In 1996, Sweden contributed a battalion to the NATO-led peacekeeping force in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Beginning in 1999, Sweden has provided a mechanized company and support units to the peacekeeping force in Kosovo. Since 2003, Swedish personnel have been working alongside Allied forces as part of International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan, providing specialist units and logistical support. Sweden leads the Mazar-e-Sharif Provincial Reconstruction Team.

Sweden participates in numerous PfP exercises. In 2007, Sweden listed a number of units as available for both EU and NATO-led operations, training and exercises. Participation requires a government decision in each individual case. The units include one mechanized infantry battalion, one light mechanized infantry battalion, one amphibious battalion (shallow water capable), one engineer company, a special operations task group, one CBRN rapid response company, and significant naval and air assets, including submarines, corvettes, and both combat and transport aircraft with a deployable airbase unit.

Sweden’s role in training the forces of NATO Partner countries is greatly valued by the Allies. In April 1999 NATO formally recognised the military training centre in Almnäs as a PfP Training Centre. In 2004, the centre moved to new, modern premises in Kungsängen, north of Stockholm. The activities of the centre include exercises and training, with a focus on humanitarian assistance, rescue services, peace-support operations, civil emergency planning and the democratic control of the armed forces. The centre regularly organizes courses and training exercises within the PfP. Swedint, the Swedish armed forces international centre has been a PfP Training Centre since 1997.

Sweden’s close ties with its neighbours Norway and Finland have resulted in Nordic security cooperation, a further practical and efficient way for like-minded states to contribute to regional and international security.  In Sweden’s case this activity is pursued alongside the Nordic Battle Group.

Defence and security sector reform

Participating in peacekeeping and peace-support operations alongside NATO Allies has complemented Sweden’s own process of military transformation. Participation in the PfP Planning and Review Process (PARP) influences Swedish planning and activities, aimed at enhancing Sweden’s ability to take part in peace-support operations. The Allies and other Partners also benefit from Swedish expertise. Sweden is contributing to NATO’s programme of support for security-sector reform in the western Balkans, southern Caucasus and Central Asia.

Sweden is participating in the development of the EU Battle Group concept. It is cooperating with Estonia, Finland and Norway among other countries in the development of a multinational rapid reaction force for EU-led peace-support operations. During periods that the Swedish parts of the force are not on stand-by for EU needs, they will be available for operations led by both the UN and NATO.

Civil emergency planning

Civil emergency planning is a major area of bilateral cooperation. The aim is for Sweden to be able to cooperate with NATO Allies in providing mutual support in dealing with the consequences of a major accident or disaster in the EAPC area. This could include dealing with the consequences of incidents involving chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear agents, as well as humanitarian disaster relief operations. In line with this, Swedish civil resources have been listed with the EADRCC (Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre). Units include search and rescue teams, medical experts and protection and decontamination units.

Science and environment

Under the Science for Peace and Security (SPS) Programme, scientists from Sweden have participated in numerous advanced research workshops and seminars on a range of topics. Since 2005, Swedish personnel have participated in over 20 activities. Topics have included information security, mesoscopic physics, the environmental role of wetlands, the protection of civilian infrastructure against terrorism, and human trafficking.

Evolution of relations

Sweden has a longstanding policy of military non-alignment that remains in effect today. In line with this, Sweden is not pursuing NATO membership but joined the new Partnership for Peace in 1994 to work alongside Allies in areas where bilateral aims converge. In 1997, the country joined the new Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC). Sweden has demonstrated a strong political commitment to the EAPC, and has been generous in its financial contributions to Partnership for Peace Trust Funds, as well as offering practical assistance to other Partners though the provision of training.

Sweden joined the PfP Planning and Review Process (PARP) in 1995, to foster interoperability with NATO forces in peace-support operations. Since joining PfP, Sweden has played an active role and offers expertise to other Partners and Allies, with a special focus on peacekeeping, civil-emergency planning and civil-military cooperation

Key milestones
1994 Sweden joins the Partnership for Peace.
1995 Sweden joins the PfP Planning and Review Process (PARP).
1996 Sweden contributes forces to the NATO-led peacekeeping force in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
1997 Swedint, the Swedish armed forces international centre, is designated a PfP Training Centre.
1999 Swedish forces participate in the NATO-led peacekeeping force in Kosovo.
2000 Swedish forces join NATO-led forces in Afghanistan.
2008 Sweden hosts live demonstration, involving NATO Allies and Swedish civilian and military forces, to test new ways of effectively sharing critical information in emergency situations (Viking 2008 Exercise).