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Speech by Ulf Kristersson

Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson’s address to the nation


Address to the nation by Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson as regards Sweden’s NATO membership, Washington, Thursday 7 March 2024.

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Good evening!

Sweden is now a member of NATO. A few hours ago, I presented Sweden’s instrument of accession to the US Secretary of State here in Washington DC. 

I did so with a sense of both pride and humility. 

This is an epoch-making event for our country. After more than 200 years of non-participation in military alliances, Sweden has taken the step to become part of the Western defence community. Together, we are stronger and more secure.  

It is a major step, but at the same time a natural one. In joining NATO, we have come home. Home to the Alliance for peace and freedom to which many democracies belong. Home to our own neighbours’ security cooperation. Home to the circle of nations where we have long belonged. 

Sweden is an outstanding country, and we are joining NATO to even better defend what we are and what we believe in: our freedom and our democracy.

We are now a member of a defence Alliance together with our closest friends. Norway, Denmark and Iceland have been members from the start, as have the United States and the United Kingdom. Germany joined a few years later, Poland in the late 90s and our Baltic neighbours Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania in the early 2000s. As you know, Finland joined last year. 

Two years have now passed since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, and President Putin has not achieved any of his goals – on the contrary.

Through the support of the international community, Ukraine daily demonstrates its impressively strong will to defend itself. But Ukraine is not only fighting for its own independence, it is fighting for our right to determine our future. For everyone’s right to not be invaded and oppressed by countries like Russia. 

Instead of succumbing to Russia’s demands for a veto on other countries’ self-determination, NATO has been reinforced with both Sweden and Finland.


As Sweden's Prime Minister, I am delighted today by the broad consensus on our NATO membership. Public support is strong and a broad majority of the Riksdag supports this decision. It is a strength for us as a NATO member. And it demonstrates that we are capable of uniting and cooperating in times of war and crisis. 

Our NATO membership is a joint Swedish success. 

Leader of the Swedish Social Democratic Party Magdalena Andersson led her party to say yes to our NATO membership, and the Sweden Democrats also changed their position, and said yes. The process that began under the previous Government has now been completed by my Government. And we have cooperated at each stage. 

I will continue to safeguard this consensus on major security policy issues. It is a strength when it comes to Sweden’s security.  

But I would also like to speak directly to those of you who feel worried or disappointed, to those of you who feel none of the joy and relief that most of us feel today. 

In a democracy such as ours, it is perfectly legitimate to have different opinions, and of course I respect those who wanted Sweden to remain outside the Alliance. I’d like to try to allay any concerns you might have. 

NATO is an organisation whose member countries work together on a voluntary basis and where decisions are taken unanimously. We make our own decision whether to send Swedish soldiers and seamen to take part in joint NATO missions. And we make our own decision whether to request military support from NATO. This is a solidarity-based defence Alliance. We train and plan together to deter those who wish us harm – and ultimately, we defend our freedom together. 

The core of NATO is the North Atlantic Treaty of 1949, which is based on the UN Charter, including the right to self-defence and the right to help other countries at their request. 

NATO membership is therefore a natural continuation of a long tradition of Swedish international engagement. We are a small country, but understand better than most the importance of the big world beyond our borders.

Sweden joined NATO’s Partnership for Peace 30 years ago. And Sweden has had its own delegation at NATO Headquarters in Brussels for more than 15 years.

Sweden has taken part in all major NATO peace operations. Tens of thousands of Swedish soldiers have served under NATO command in countries such as Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo and Afghanistan. Few new NATO members have been as prepared as we are.

Our cooperation with the United States has also deepened over the years. Intelligence-sharing and defence technology cooperation with the United States were already crucial under Prime Minister Tage Erlander. There has never been any doubt as to where Sweden would turn in the event of war.

In those days, military cooperation was sensitive and often secret. Now we can cooperate openly and honestly – as Allies. NATO membership is the logical continuation of the security policy that Sweden has, in practice, pursued for many decades.


Alone, we are not strong. And Sweden’s security is intrinsically linked to developments in the world around us. We are now entering into a defence Alliance that has been very successful for almost 75 years. 

Sweden is a more secure country today than it was yesterday. We have Allies. We have support. We have taken out insurance in the defence Alliance of the Western world. And our part of the world is more secure – now and for future generations. 

With Sweden and Finland as NATO members, the Nordic countries now have a common defence for the first time in 500 years. We are no longer only good neighbours. (We still are). We are Allies. Sweden will defend freedom with the countries closest to us geographically, emotionally and in terms of values.

But our NATO membership is not only about receiving support from others; it is also about providing support to others. We will contribute our unique defence capabilities – on land, in the air, and on and below the sea. 

Many know of NATO’s Article 5 – that an attack on one member should be seen as an attack on all members. All for one, one for all.

Article 3 is less well-known: it says that all countries must also maintain own defence capabilities that are sufficiently strong. Both are important.

We are now making preparations and doubling Sweden’s defence appropriations to more than two per cent of GDP. We are increasing the number of conscripts, we are strengthening civil defence and we are reactivating civilian service. 

I have spoken a great deal with Sweden’s Supreme Commander, Micael Bydén, and I know that Sweden will have highly knowledgeable and skilful women and men in all NATO staff and working groups.


Many people have played crucial roles in Sweden’s NATO membership. I would especially like to thank the United States and President Joe Biden for his strong personal engagement in our cause. I would also like to extend my warm thanks to the tireless Secretary General of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg, and to the recently retired President of Finland, Sauli Niinistö. 

And I would like to thank Finland’s Prime Minister Petteri Orpo and Finland’s new President Alexander Stubb for many years of constructive cooperation. And thank you Sanna Marin, Finland’s former Prime Minister, who played a more vital role than many know. I am grateful that we were able to have trusting discussions across both national borders and party lines during a few critical months. 

Sweden is also grateful for the security assurances that many countries gave us during the sensitive period between application and membership. They provided us with security in times of insecurity. And thanks to all other NATO member countries and their parliaments for showing the confidence in Sweden to accept us as a full member of NATO. We will not let you down.  

There is no doubt that our country is worth defending, and more and more people want to contribute. More people want to go through national military service and more people apply for the Home Guard. And I know that more people will also take part in civilian operations. 

We are now standing here strong, together– for peace and freedom. All for one, and one for all. 

A new era for Sweden begins tonight. 

Thank you.