En su desesperada carrera por actualizar su flota de combate aéreo ante los muchos conflictos que amenazan a su país, el presidente turco, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, llegó incluso a cortejar al español Pedro Sánchez y a su homólogo británico para adquirir los Eurofighters Typhoon europeos en el último año.

El turco no iba de farol, ya que durante años Washington ha castigado al díscolo líder turco negándole la actualización a la generación 4,5 de sus 270 cazas F-16, columna vertebral de su flota, adquirida y producida por Ankara en la década de 1980, y ya desfasada para afrontar cualquiera de los muchos riesgos a los que Turquía se enfrenta.…  Seguir leyendo »

Perihan Koca (left) and Kezban Konukcu (right), members of the Turkish opposition People’s Equality and Democracy Party, hold signs reading "No to NATO, Occupation, War" during the voting on a bill regarding Sweden’s accession to NATO at the Grand National Assembly of Turkey in Ankara on Jan. 23. Adem Altan/AFP via Getty Images

This week, Turkey’s parliament finally approved Sweden’s bid for NATO membership, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan swiftly ratified the measure.

Sweden’s NATO accession has dragged on for more than a year. While every other NATO member aside from Hungary supported Stockholm’s accession, Turkish leaders accused the Scandinavian country of harboring Kurdish terrorists. They demanded that Sweden tighten its anti-terrorism laws, extradite people accused of terrorist activities in Turkey, and resume arms sales to Turkey. The United States seems to have linked approval of Sweden’s NATO membership to future U.S. sales of F-16 fighter jets to Turkey.

As Sweden’s membership process stalled, analysts warned of the alliance’s decline and offered a range of proposed carrots and sticks to rein in Ankara.…  Seguir leyendo »

‘If you can’t say hello and keep walking, then zip it …’ Photograph: fotostorm/Getty Images

In a development more chilling than its -10C temperature, the Swedish city of Luleå is encouraging people to say hello to each other. The Säg hej! campaign is trying to combat social isolation and loneliness during the long, dark Nordic winter by making people feel “more seen and a bit more like you belong”, according to the campaign’s coordinator, Åsa Koski. I admit that sounds admirable, but it is also horrifying.

I consume a vast amount of energy when navigating interactions with strangers and I am pretty sure that is standard in the UK. Maybe it’s different in Sweden (or perhaps not, given that they found 2-metre social distancing too close for comfort), but over here we live by the motto: “Why make things simple when you could become ensnared in a web of awkwardness?”…  Seguir leyendo »

Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson attends a NATO summit meeting in Vilnius, Lithuania, on July 12. Kay Nietfeld/Picture Alliance via Getty Images

NATO members breathed a sigh of relief as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan finally approved Sweden’s entry into the military alliance. To most NATO members, Sweden’s membership is a no-brainer: The peace-loving Swedes—the country has not been at war since 1814, has played a crucial role in the formation of the U.N. system, and has a well-earned reputation for peace-making and mediation—deserve to be defended by the alliance and will also be able to add to the security of NATO members with their modern and NATO-compatible military, the reasoning goes.

Yet the Sweden soon joining NATO is not the same country that once mediated conflicts in Africa, used its active diplomacy to reduce tensions between the two blocs during the Cold War, supported peaceful resolutions to armed conflicts, or championed disarmament and nuclear nonproliferation.…  Seguir leyendo »

Norwegian F-35 fighter jets fly during the Arctic Challenge Exercise, held with Finland and Sweden, near Orland Main Air Station, Norway, on June 1. Cornelius Poppe/NTB/AFP via Getty Images

The first-ever landing of a U.S. bomber on Swedish soil, participation in NATO’s largest-ever air deployment exercise, constant strategic communications from NATO affirming the alliance’s solidarity with Sweden—life on the doorstep of NATO accession has turned out to be surprisingly livable for Sweden. That matters because a new Quran burning (this time by an Iraqi refugee) now seems likely to further extend Sweden’s wait as Turkey throws another tantrum—and because it signals to prospective spoilsports that trying to thwart accession isn’t worth the effort.

NATO and its members are taking pains to celebrate Sweden while the country waits for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to change his mind regarding its membership.…  Seguir leyendo »

The cover of Lola Akinmade Åkerström's novel, "In Every Mirror She's Black". Courtesy Lola Akinmade Åkerström

When mirrors show us how we look, we adjust what needs to be fixed. We don’t break those mirrors simply because we won’t accept our reflection.

I remember the exact line from a reader’s letter that moved me to tears. You know, the type of sobbing that purses your mouth into an ugly pout.

“You allow them to be strong, vulnerable, brilliant, messy”, she says of my characters, “and yet you command your audience to always remember that all those roller coasters of experiencing romance, loss, love, success and emotions are not only reserved for white bodies”.

This is just one of dozens of personal letters I have received from readers across the globe who feel seen in my three fictional protagonists: Marketing executive Kemi, model-turned-flight attendant Brittany, and refugee Muna, whose stories form the core of my novel, In Every Mirror She’s Black.…  Seguir leyendo »

How Did No-Mandate Sweden End Up With Such an Average Pandemic?

If you know one thing about Sweden’s pandemic, it is almost certainly that the country followed a radical, contrarian public health path. Its hands-off approach to Covid-19 mitigation — no stay-at-home orders to begin with, and no mask mandates later on — was one that many on the pandemic left quickly derided as sadistic public policy and many on the pandemic right praised as enlightened.

That was the story three years ago, and although the terms of the debate have been somewhat frozen in time since, the argument has been burning again. In recent weeks, the former state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell, the architect of the Swedish response, has been taking a sort of victory lap through the media.…  Seguir leyendo »

En las recientes elecciones suecas ganó el bloque de centro derecha sobre el bloque de centro izquierda con 176 escaños frente a 173, es decir, con un margen pequeño. Esto ha sido comentado en la prensa extranjera como que «llega la extrema derecha». No, lo que ha sucedido es que algunos votantes centristas han votado algo más a la derecha, los socialdemócratas han perdido parte del voto de los obreros y algunos inmigrantes han votado a un partido islámico. En el debate electoral, se habló mucho del precio de la electricidad, pero sobre todo de la situación de inseguridad, sin precedentes en la historia moderna del país.…  Seguir leyendo »

Italy and Sweden are about as different as two European countries can get. One is Catholic, Mediterranean, sunny and chaotic; the other Protestant, northern, chilly and ordered. Over the decades, they have had very different political trajectories. But now, both are witnessing the striking rise of parties that have some connections to fascism.

In each country, this rise has coincided with a collapse of support for the center-left. And it all centers on an issue that the Biden administration would do well to take very seriously: immigration.

Giorgia Meloni, likely the next prime minister of Italy, is a charismatic 45-year-old politician.…  Seguir leyendo »

Supporters of the Sweden Democrats political party during its election night rally. .Jonathan Nackstrand/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

“Helg seger”.

Those two words, spoken by Rebecka Fallenkvist, a 27-year-old media figure and politician from the Sweden Democrats, the far-right party that took 20 percent in Sweden’s general election last week, sent shivers down spines throughout the country. It’s not the phrase, which is odd and means “weekend victory”. It’s the sound: one letter away from “Hell seger”, the Swedish translation of the Nazi salute “Sieg Heil”, and the war cry of Swedish Nazis for decades.

Ms. Fallenkvist was quick to disavow any Nazi associations. She meant to declare the weekend a victorious one, she said, but the words came out in the wrong order.…  Seguir leyendo »

Jimmie Åkesson, leader of the Sweden Democrats, speaks during the party's election watch outside Stockholm last week. Photograph: Stefan Jerrevång/AP

Welcome to Europe, Sweden! A sad welcome. Following last week’s election results, the Sweden Democrats, an anti-immigration, rightwing populist party, will for the first time be included in the “blue” majority coalition, which won a narrow victory over the Social Democrats and its allies in the “red” block. Magdalena Andersson, Sweden’s first female prime minister, lasted only a year in the post, even if her Social Democratic party increased its share of the vote by 2% to 30%.

Sweden has now joined the fate of many other European countries in which nationalist, anti-immigration parties have taken their seat at the formal coalition negotiation table or even in government.…  Seguir leyendo »

Jimmie Åkesson, leader of the Sweden Democrats, celebrates election results in Nacka, Sweden, on Sept. 11. (Stefan Jerrevang/AP)

A center-right coalition in Sweden narrowly secured victory on Wednesday, anchored by a national populist party called the Sweden Democrats. This has unnerved many in the West, but it shouldn’t. It’s simply yet another example of how the refusal of elites to deal with the legitimate concerns of voters is fueling populist backlash.

National populism, a term coined by British political scientists Roger Eatwell and Matthew Goodwin, is today found in virtually every Western nation. Its adherents tend to come from similar social classes — disproportionally middle-aged workers without high levels of formal education. They tilt male but include large numbers of demographically similar women.…  Seguir leyendo »

Situada en el calendario entre las dos grandes elecciones europeas de 2022 —las francesas de la pasada primavera y las italianas del próximo otoño—, la cita sueca con las urnas suscitaba a priori un interés menor. No ya por tratarse de una democracia más pequeña sino porque aquí no había tono agónico ni se planteaba la sustitución radical de los partidos tradicionales. De hecho, nadie dudaba que los socialdemócratas volverían a ser los más votados. Un resultado, por otro lado, rutinario, repetido 32 veces seguidas entre 1917 y la votación de este domingo. Sí, han leído bien. Desde antes incluso de que se aprobase el sufragio universal, el primer partido siempre ha sido el mismo, lo que ha permitido al centroizquierda gobernar 80 de los últimos 100 años y construir durante ese tiempo el que se considera Estado de bienestar por antonomasia.…  Seguir leyendo »

Normalmente se citan la democracia liberal o la economía de mercado como los tesoros políticos de Europa. Pero nuestro mayor logro es la neutralidad y el no-alineamiento. Es decir, la capacidad de no ser arrastrados a la guerra por otros bloques y potencias, como se ha visto en nuestro continente durante siglos.

1. Suecia y Finlandia

Si las dos Guerras Mundiales incendiaron Europa tan rápidamente fue precisamente porque muchos países abandonaron el cortafuegos que supone la neutralidad. En la Primera fueron Bélgica, Italia o Luxemburgo. En la Segunda, Países Bajos, Islandia, Noruega o los bálticos.

Todos ellos fueron obligados a alinearse militarmente con británicos, alemanes, rusos o estadounidenses.…  Seguir leyendo »

Did you know that the famous IKEA meatballs are actually Turkish? The legend goes that the meatballs (as well as stuffed cabbage) were actually brought home to Sweden by King Charles XII, who took refuge in the Ottoman Empire for several years after losing a battle with Russia in the early 18th century. The final battle was in Poltava, which is now in central Ukraine, and the Swedish monarch’s opponent was none other than Peter the Great, the tsar who seized parts of Ukraine from the Ottomans and is apparently an inspiration for Russian President Vladimir Putin.

This history, along with the fact that Turkey has long been a champion of NATO enlargement, should make Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan more lenient on Sweden and Finland’s bid to join the alliance during this week’s NATO summit in Madrid.…  Seguir leyendo »

A Social Media Takedown Is a Blessing in Disguise for Sweden

On a warm day in late May, life was humming along, punctuated by fika breaks, with pastries, coffee and conversation, when Sweden found itself thrust into the center of a global Twitter storm. Usually known for its generous social safety nets, latte papas and midsummer frolics, the Scandinavian nation was trending — and not in a good way.

The critical gaze of social media users around the world was suddenly trained on the curious Swedish tradition of not automatically offering food to guests — including children invited over for play dates — while the host family sits down to eat. It started with a Reddit user who described a memory of being left in a friend’s bedroom while the family ate dinner, and it escalated into Swedengate, a hashtag and multilayered takedown of a nation more accustomed to praise than mockery.…  Seguir leyendo »

¿Qué supone ahora para la OTAN la entrada de las antes neutrales Suecia y Finlandia?

La invasión rusa de Ucrania iniciada en febrero está produciendo unas sacudidas en el entorno de seguridad europeo cuyo alcance total solo se vislumbrará cuando la niebla de la guerra se haya disipado. Lo que ya se sabe es que la guerra ha hecho anidar entre los europeos una sensación de inseguridad compartida.

La solicitud de acceso a la OTAN avanzada por Suecia y Finlandia es una manifestación de la inquietud con que dos naciones nórdicas geográficamente próximas a Rusia contemplan la guerra. La preocupación de estos dos países por el comportamiento ruso no es nueva, pero renace ahora con fuerza para operar un cambio histórico en unas culturas estratégicas basadas en la neutralidad, llevándolos a llamar a la puerta de una organización en cuya periferia han permanecido durante décadas.…  Seguir leyendo »

Finlandia y Suecia, ante un nuevo orden internacional

Finlandia, dispuesta a acabar con la finlandización, y Suecia han oficializado su deseo de formar parte de la OTAN. Este es el hecho, hasta hace unos meses inimaginable.

¿Por qué entrar en la Alianza Atlántica si ambos países están en la Unión Europea, cuyo Tratado (art. 42.7) obliga a los Estados miembros a ayudar, con todos los medios a su alcance, a un país que sea objeto de agresión armada?

¿Por qué entrar en la OTAN ahora cuando la Unión acaba de aprobar la llamada Brújula Estratégica, que confirma el concepto de autonomía estratégica europea en asuntos de defensa y seguridad?…  Seguir leyendo »

Las guerras modernas se libran simultáneamente en tres planos distintos pero interconectados, el del campo de batalla, el interno y el externo. Y si algo nos ha enseñado la historia reciente es que resulta muy complicado lograr el éxito en los tres planos al mismo tiempo.

Por ejemplo, a Estados Unidos le fue muy bien en el campo de batalla al inicio de su invasión de Irak en 2003, pero ya había perdido el plano externo al no conseguir el apoyo internacional y acabó perdiendo en los otros dos planos, pues el aumento de sus dificultades en el campo de batalla provocó el recrudecimiento de las divisiones internas, antesala de sus actuales titubeos estratégicos entre el repliegue y la redefinición de sus intereses.…  Seguir leyendo »

La inesperada transformación geopolítica de Europa: cómo la guerra de Rusia contra Ucrania ha hecho que la OTAN renazca en el norte

El pasado 18 de mayo, Finlandia y Suecia presentaron de manera simultánea y oficial la carta de intenciones en la que indicaban que van a solicitar el ingreso en la OTAN. Cuando se ratifique la admisión de los dos países —cosa que todavía puede tardar—, todo el norte de Europa, desde el mar de Barents hasta el Báltico, será una zona cohesionada de defensa de la OTAN. Y Rusia tendrá que afrontar la nueva realidad de una frontera directa con la Alianza que será el doble de la actual. Esta es la consecuencia geopolítica más tangible y duradera, hasta ahora, de la invasión injustificada de Ucrania.…  Seguir leyendo »