Opposition among voters in Sweden to seek membership of the defence alliance NATO was almost level with those who favour membership, a survey published on Monday showed.
While 35% oppose NATO membership, 33% favour joining, while 32% were undecided, according to the survey commissioned by Stockholm daily Dagens Nyheter.
"This is the third consecutive survey where the proportion who oppose NATO membership has decreased," analyst Nicklas Kallebring of the polling institute Ipsos told the newspaper.
The result was a virtual tie between supporters and opponents of membership, he added of the survey that comprised 1,226 people and was conducted in early December.
Sweden is not a member of NATO, but has since 1994 cooperated with the alliance within the Partnership for Peace (PFP) framework and participated in NATO-led operations in Afghanistan, for instance.
The survey's publication coincided with the annual Society and Defence conference. Participants include the ministers of defence and foreign affairs, lawmakers, the supreme commander of the Swedish defence forces and others from the Swedish security and defence policy community.
Cooperation with Finland
This year it was held online due to the coronavirus pandemic.
In a speech to the conference, Foreign Minister Ann Linde underlined that the government - comprising Social Democrats and Greens - had no plans to change its security policy despite recent moves by the centre-right opposition.
Sweden's "non-participation in military alliances serves [it] well and contributes to stability and security in northern Europe," she said.
"It requires an active, broad and responsible foreign and security policy combined with enhanced defence cooperation – particularly with Finland – and credible national defence capabilities," Linde added.