Defense Spending and Sweden's Membership: NATO Vilnius Summit

Leaders of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) member countries have issued a declaration following the NATO Summit in Vilnius.

13/07/2023 - 19:37
Source: NATO
Source: NATO

The two-day NATO summit in Vilnius has concluded. While the main focus of the summit was on the Ukrainian issue, some matters from the meeting have gone relatively unnoticed.

Alliance Expansion

During the summit, U.S. President Joe Biden stated that the Vilnius Summit is "historic" as NATO prepares for expansion.

"The accession of Finland and Sweden to NATO holds immense significance," Biden told NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.

Biden thanked Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the first day of the summit after Ankara announced its withdrawal of opposition to Sweden's NATO membership.

Turkey declared that it would put Sweden's NATO membership to a parliamentary vote in exchange for enhanced cooperation in trade and investment. Moreover, following Turkey's statement, the U.S. hinted at the possibility of new supplies of F-16 fighters to Turkey after years of hiatus.

However, prior to the announcement, Turkey presented a list of demands related to the Turkish and Kurdish diaspora in Sweden. Sweden indeed tightened control over the Kurdistan Workers' Party, and after the signed agreement, promised to suppress the Syrian wing of the party.

Defense Spending

Another key issue at the summit is the increase in defense spending.

According to Stoltenberg, NATO members have adopted "the most ambitious defense plans since the Cold War," designed to counter threats to the alliance. The new plans involve placing over 300,000 troops in a state of heightened combat readiness.

Allies approved a new defense production plan aimed at boosting procurement and expanding the defense industry.

To meet defense needs, NATO members have agreed to invest at least 2% of their GDP in defense. European allies and Canada increased their defense budgets by 8% in 2023, marking the largest growth in decades. Currently, only 11 member countries meet the requirements, but it is expected that this number will significantly increase by 2024.



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