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On June 8, 2022, the Georgian Institute of Politics (GIP) held the Virtual Roundtable Discussion – Change of Regional Security Paradigm? Sweden and Finland after applying for NATO membership.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine a couple of months ago has shuttered the regional security architecture that has been in place since the end of the Cold War. It has also raised fear among many that the world was on the brink of yet another global war. These developments are especially concerning for the countries whose security is not guaranteed by the NATO umbrella. Armed conflict in the heart of Europe has surged support among Finns and Swedes in support of abandoning their long-held neutrality and opting for North Atlantic Treaty Organization membership. Despite the harsh criticism and threats from the Kremlin, NATO Secretary-General said that both Sweden and Finland would be welcomed warmly and that their integration process was going to be very quick. These developments also raise questions for other close allies of the alliance: what they should be expecting from the upcoming Madrid Summit and what are the lessons to be learned from the change of the long-held security paradigm in the region.
Roundtable brought together distinguished speakers who offered their insights on the potential NATO enlargement in Scandinavia and its implication for other aspirant countries: Dr. Sinikuka Saari, Finnish Institute of International Affairs; Mr. Jakob Hedenskog, Stockholm Centre for Eastern European Studies; Dr. Daniel S. Hamilton, The Foreign Policy Institute of Johns Hopkins SAIS; Dr. Tom Røseth, The Norwegian Defence University College; Dr. Svante E. Cornell, Institute for Security and Development Policy. Prof. Kornely Kakachia, Director of the Georgian Institute of Politics, opened the roundtable with his welcoming remark. Dr. Ketevan Bolkvadze (Lund University) moderated the discussion.
The online discussion was focused on the following questions:
- What are the implications and lessons of Sweden and Finland joining NATO for other aspirant countries?
- How has the war in Ukraine changed the perception of security among Finnish and Swedish political elites and the wider public?
- How is the security of Stockholm and Helsinki guaranteed in the interim period amid threats from Russia?