The message was put forward yesterday by Michèle Flournoy, U.S. Under Secretary of Defense for Policy. This at a seminar in Stockholm, organized by the Swedish Institute of International Affairs (UI) and the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).
“U.S. welcomes greater cooperation with Sweden and Finland. We share number of interests and challenges when it comes to security. But of course it is up to the Swedish and Finnish peoples to decide which security architecture they want to belong to in the future," said Michèle Flournoy, according to newspaper Svenska Dagbladet.
She pointed to the fact that Sweden has issued a solidarity statement to give and receive military assistance, and has switched from an territorial to an operational defense. Flournoy thereafter asked “if Sweden wanted to solve their problems by themselves or in NATO”.
“With the declaration of solidarity and the reform of your defense forces, we see how the cooperation with NATO is growing. The question I posed was: where do the Swedish people want to take this cooperation?” she later told Svenska Dagbladet.
The U.S. has previously been very cautious to interfere in the Swedish NATO debate.
But several experts in the audience interpreted Flournoy's question as a shift in approach by the U.S.
We put no pressure on anyone, or twist their arm - we always have the door open," said Michèle Flournoy.