Almost two years since the application was submitted, Sweden has now become a member of the NATO defense alliance. The decision to join NATO may have been one of the biggest and most important that Sweden has ever made. The alliance brings together some of the world’s richest countries and a billion people in a military and value-based community where all countries have a mutual interest in each other’s security.

It is a mission and a solidarity that is more important now than in many decades. The idea of NATO has always been to build a peaceful world order through deterrence and collective defense—a success story because no NATO country has been attacked so far. In practical terms, membership should not entail such major changes—Sweden has cooperated with the alliance since 1994, participates in NATO exercises and has participated in NATO operations from Kosovo to Afghanistan. The big difference is that Sweden will now be involved in making strategic decisions and the country knows with certainty that if the need should arise, 31 nations are backing Sweden. On the present security situation in Europe and for Sweden, Lieutenant General Thomas Nilsson, head of MUST, the Swedish military intelligence and security service (militära underrättelse- och säkerhetstjänsten) had this to say: “In the current serious security situation, it is crucial that we can face the threats to our society with a united Swedish approach.” The recently released annual overview by MUST also stated "The security situation in Europe and in Sweden’s immediate area is the most serious since the early 1980s. The risks to Swedish security have increased and the threats have become broader and more complex." True for sure and yet, make no mistake, the world has changed but Sweden is just as safe to visit as it was in the fall when we wrote about that aspect of the country of our ancestors. Ulf Barslund Martensson