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Sweden Increases Defense Budget to 2% of GDP in Bid to Join NATO

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Sweden Increases Defense Budget to Meet NATO Target

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Sweden has decided to increase its defense budget to 2% of its gross domestic product (GDP) in order to meet the target set by NATO. This move comes as Sweden awaits the approval of Turkey and Hungary to join the Western military alliance.

Sweden’s Plan to Achieve NATO Military Spending Target

As a candidate for NATO membership, Sweden aims to raise its defense budget to 2% of GDP starting next year. The announcement was made by Swedish Defense Minister Pall Johnson, who revealed that the defense budget will increase by approximately 2.2 billion euros ($2.36 billion). A portion of this increase, around 58 million euros, will be allocated to NATO administrative fees, as Sweden anticipates becoming a part of NATO.

Sweden’s Bid for NATO Membership

In May 2022, Sweden and Finland submitted their applications for NATO membership. However, Sweden is particularly seeking the approval of Turkey, a significant NATO ally. Sweden hopes to join Finland, whose membership Ankara has previously approved, due to mounting security concerns related to the ongoing Russian-Ukrainian conflict.

NATO’s Defense Spending Target

During a NATO summit held in Vilnius in July, member states reaffirmed their commitment to spending at least 2% of their GDP on defense. While Turkey has approved Finland’s NATO membership, it is waiting for Sweden to fulfill certain obligations. These include not providing shelter for terrorists and terrorist supporters, as well as not allowing their actions to proceed unchecked.

Sweden’s Assurances to Turkey

Stockholm has reassured Turkey that it will not support terrorist organizations, such as the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), its People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Syria, or the Gulen terrorist group, following its NATO membership. Additionally, a new bilateral security mechanism will be established between Ankara and Stockholm. Notably, NATO will create a dedicated counter-terrorism coordinator for the first time in its history.

Turkey’s Conditions for Sweden

Prior to the NATO summit in Lithuania, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan emphasized to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg that Sweden must prevent the terrorist organization PKK from organizing protests within its borders in order to gain approval for its NATO bid.

Criticism of Sweden and Denmark

Sweden, along with Denmark, has faced repeated criticism for allowing anti-Islamic acts, including the burning of the Holy Quran. These incidents have sparked anger among Muslims, who have called for a ban on such acts. While the Swedish government has condemned these actions and announced measures to prevent desecration, it has also emphasized the importance of “freedom of expression” for individuals involved in these events. The burning incidents have become more common after a Danish-Swedish far-right politician, Rasmus Paludan, initiated a new wave of burnings in Denmark and Sweden as a reaction to Turkey’s opposition to Sweden’s NATO bid.

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