[Circle Time Depth] Neutral countries are no longer neutral, who loses the most?

  [Global Times Special Correspondent Yin Miao Xia Xue Zhang Lei Global Times Special Correspondent Bass in Sweden, Austria and Finland] It has been half a month since two neutral countries, the Nordic countries Finland and Sweden, formally applied to join NATO. The progress of "expansion" and how Russia responds have always been international hot spots.

Whether it is the "surprising calm" of the Russian leader, the "warm welcome" of NATO leaders and member states such as the United States and Germany, or Turkey's repeated emphasis on "the same position against Reffin's entry into the treaty", the two countries' applications for "joining the treaty" are both is an important turning point.

A few countries such as Finland, Sweden and Austria are internationally recognized as "permanent neutral countries".

From 1814 to the present, Sweden has maintained a military non-aligned history for more than 200 years; Finland signed the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance with the Soviet Union after World War II and maintained its neutral status for more than 70 years.

Although Finland and Sweden have cooperated with NATO for a long time, the people of the two countries are still accustomed to regard the "neutral status" as a "force for good", and the two countries are still among the "country with the highest happiness index" every year. They are also regarded as "bridge builders".

People can't help but ask: "What would the world look like if neutral countries were no longer neutral, the 'happy country' was no longer calm, the 'power of good' gradually diminished, and the 'bridge of communication' was cut off?"

Two 'bridge builders' give up 'last bottom line'

  The neutral status of both Finland and Sweden has a special historical background.

From the second half of the 12th century, Finland was part of Sweden.

After the Russo-Swedish War of 1809, the defeated Swedes were forced to cede Finland to the Russians and began to seek a neutral route.

Sweden remained neutral in both world wars.

Finland participated in the war against the Soviet Union from 1941 to 1944 when Nazi Germany attacked the Soviet Union.

In February 1947, Finland, as a defeated country, signed the "Paris Peace Treaty" with the Soviet Union, the United States and other countries, and then signed the "Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance" with the Soviet Union in April 1948.

Sweden and Finland have been "requested" to join by NATO many times, but the two countries have never "joined".

  Sweden and Finland joined NATO's "Partnership for Peace Program" in 1994 and began to cooperate with NATO.

When NATO carried out military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, the two countries were also involved.

A political scientist at the University of Helsinki told Finnish National Radio (Yle): “Finland has always been conservative about joining NATO, despite its long-standing cooperation with NATO. We stick to the 'last line' and the reason is that Worried about offending the neighbors to the east."

  For the sake of national interests, Sweden's foreign security policy has been summarized by the country's media as "non-alignment in peace, neutrality in war".

Maintaining neutrality is just a foreign policy of Sweden that has been going on for many years. Various Swedish governments believe that maintaining neutrality can better ensure Sweden's security.

However, Harald Gustafsson, a professor of history at Lund University in Sweden, also said: "It is wrong to claim that Sweden has pursued the same policy of neutrality for more than 200 years, and Sweden's non-alignment is just a compromise of reality. ." Sweden's goal during the neutrality policy period was to stand outside the great-power wars and act as a buffer between the superpowers during the Cold War.

But in the 1950s, when NATO only had 15 member states, Sweden also had the saying of "the sixteenth NATO country", and the cooperation between Sweden and NATO in areas such as information sharing was strictly kept secret.

  Nonetheless, both Sweden and Finland were seen as "the bridge between the West and Russia" after the Cold War.

Russians are disappointed and dissatisfied with the two countries' decision to change their neutrality status.

Nabiyev, a 38-year-old Moscow citizen, told the Global Times reporter: "Now that NATO has 30 member states, what about two more Finland and Sweden? We have nuclear weapons, everyone is afraid of Russia, and there is no one A fool dares to attack Russia, because there will be no winner." Igor Maltsev, a commentator on "Russia Today", said that Russia is most worried about the denuclearization of the Baltic Sea region, because the nuclear weapons of the United States, France and the United Kingdom may Appears on Finnish territory.

Russian political scientist Alexander Assafov believes that Finland's NATO membership was wrong from a geopolitical point of view.

When the good-neighborly, friendly and mutually beneficial relationship is destroyed, apart from the military confrontation, the daily life of the people of the two countries will also be affected.

  They are no longer "calm" about Finland and Sweden, and there are voices of concern and regret within Europe.

In an interview with international media recently, former German Bundestag Secretary of State Willy Wimmer said: "It was these two NATO countries that helped resolve the confrontation and maintained the peace in Europe for more than 70 years after World War II." He believes that, Under the pressure of the United States, the original "bridge of communication" between Finland and Sweden and Russia will be cut off artificially, and the two countries will lose their role as neutral countries, which will deprive European peace of many guarantees.

"NATO is not a bus that you can hop on at any time, and you are not 100 percent protected when you get on the bus," said Martin Hurt, a researcher at the Estonian Centre for International Defense Studies.

There are still people in Finland and Sweden who value 'neutrality'

  As the "happiest country" in the world, Finland shares a 1,300-kilometer border with Russia and has a population of only 5.5 million.

In three polls conducted by Yle in February, March and May this year, Finns supported joining NATO by 53%, 62% and 76% respectively.

Talking about the change in public attitudes, Finnish software engineer Dimo ​​told the Global Times reporter: "I have always been not interested in joining NATO, but since the escalation of the Ukraine crisis, I do feel threatened. After all, Finland has also been subjected to The period of Russian rule.” Clothing store owner Sirgu said: “We cannot wait to apply to join NATO when we are in danger. If we want to join, now is the best time.” Has lived in Finland for nearly 20 years Mr. Wang, an overseas Chinese who is a shooting enthusiast, told reporters: "After Russia launched a 'special military operation' against Ukraine, bulletproof ceramic sheets in various military supply stores in Finland were snapped up. The price of bullets has also risen sharply in the past two months. "Although Finns don't believe that Russia will come, but in a country that is used to planning ahead, people are silently making preparations."

  Even those who agree to join NATO worry that Finland's loss of neutral status will increase tensions between Europe and Russia, and could be dragged into other wars by NATO, or even become a vassal of a great power.

Dimo told the Global Times reporter: "Joining the EU and working closely with NATO shows that Finland is no longer 'neutral'. In the future, Finland's accession to NATO will not change our status quo much, but it will definitely increase the number of Western countries. Tension with Russia. We have made a choice, and now we will see how Russia will react in the end." Some Finns who support the country's entry into NATO are also well aware that the relationship between Finland and Russia will be tested.

  In Sweden, which ranks at the top of the "Happiness Index", there are still many people who value the status and role of neutral countries.

Swedish Minister of Climate and Environment and Leader of the Social Democratic Women's Union Strandhall said: "The Social Democratic Women's Union has a long history of struggles on issues such as peace, disarmament and military non-alignment. Sweden should adhere to a non-aligned security policy, Stay away from NATO." Among the eight groups in the Swedish parliament, the Greens and the Left Party explicitly rejected Sweden's membership in NATO.

Green Party spokesman Stinevi said Sweden's security should be based on cooperation and its own defense, and Sweden should stay away from NATO.

Left party leader Dade Gostal believes: "Sweden's entry into NATO could lead to us being involved in the armed conflict in Ukraine. Scandinavian countries may, under the leadership of NATO, have to participate in wars they do not want to be involved in." After joining NATO, "we will lose our unique advantages in terms of neutrality and non-alignment policy," said Sven Hidman, Sweden's former ambassador to Russia.

  On Swedish social media, the government's decision to join NATO has also disappointed some young people.

Elena Wallström, a 19-year-old SPD member, said the SPD's platform made it clear that "military non-alignment is an important part of Sweden's foreign and security policy" and that it would be a betrayal for the party leadership to violate this principle.

What worries her most is that "the young people who will be drafted into the army and risk being sent to the battlefield have no voice in the matter".

Brett Carlson, a doctor, said: "As a neutral and non-aligned country, Sweden can play a better role in the world outside the NATO defense alliance. Don't let the US control our foreign policy. The US is a NATO powerhouse. , It is the United States that ultimately dominates and decides. The foreign and defense policies of the United States have brought a lot of harm in the world, especially in the Middle East.” Netizen Ak Johnson said: “Joining NATO will inevitably mean greater Conflict risks, becoming more of an area of ​​confrontation between great powers. Equally illogical is that, fearing one great power - Russia, and relying on another - the US for security - would make it impossible for Sweden to pursue an independent Foreign policy, especially in nuclear disarmament.” A business administration scholar at Stockholm University believes that the loss of neutral status will irreversibly damage the interests of the Swedish business community.

He believes that Sweden should have strived to be "the most refined neutrality and peace mediator in the world" rather than "either or the other".

Austria continues to remain 'positively neutral'

  After Finland and Sweden proposed to join NATO, Austria, also an EU member, became the most staunch representative of a neutral country.

The Austrian government has repeatedly stated that it fully respects the decision of the Finnish and Swiss governments to join NATO, but Austria will continue to maintain its neutral status. "We do not belong to any military alliance, and we do not want to join such organizations (NATO)."

  Austrian Prime Minister Nehamer had a 45-minute call with Russian President Vladimir Putin on May 27, which was quite persuasive.

When Nehamer visited Russia on April 11, he was described by international media as "the first EU leader to visit Russia and meet Putin since the escalation of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine".

The Austrian leader can do so mainly thanks to its status as a permanent neutral country and its diplomatic tradition as a "bridge builder" between the East and the West.

  Before the start of World War II, Austria, Hitler's hometown, was "annexed" by Nazi Germany in a positive attitude. Therefore, there has been controversy over whether Austria is a "victim or an accomplice of Nazi Germany".

After World War II, the United States, Britain, France and the Soviet Union occupied Austria respectively, and Vienna was divided into four occupation zones. During this period, Austria still had its own government, but the four countries had the right to veto any new legislation.

As the Cold War began, the four countries began negotiations on Austria's final status in 1947.

In 1955, after West Germany agreed to join NATO and Austria assured the Soviet Union that it would become a neutral country after independence, the four countries signed a treaty with the Austrian government, agreeing to withdraw troops from Austria and restore Austrian sovereignty.

After all the occupying forces of the four countries withdrew from Austria, the Austrian Parliament passed a constitutional act to determine Austria's neutral status, declared permanent neutrality, and promised to take all feasible means to maintain its neutrality in the future.

The act also stipulates that Austria should never join any military alliance, nor allow other countries to establish military bases on Austrian soil.

Relevant reports say that Austria has notified all countries that have established diplomatic relations with its permanent neutral status.

When Austria joined the European Union in 1995, it also deliberately added a new clause to the constitution to ensure that actions within the framework of the European Union's Common Foreign and Security Policy do not violate Austria's neutrality.

As a "NATO partner country", Austria has been invited to participate in large-scale cyber military exercises held by NATO.

  The Austrian "Standard" recently wrote an article analyzing the reasons for Austria's refusal to join NATO: "According to the relevant EU policy, any EU member state is obliged to provide support in the event of an armed invasion, even if the member state is not a member of NATO. Austria, which is located in the middle of Europe, is far away from Russia, and its military threat is not as great as that of Finland and Sweden. In addition, about three-quarters of the Austrian people generally oppose joining NATO, and only about 14% fully support it.”

  The reduction of neutral countries naturally causes the international community to worry that the intermediate communication channels for resolving global crises and conflicts will be affected.

Taking Austria as an example, after determining its neutrality status, the country has been implementing a "positive neutrality policy", acting as a mediator in disputes, providing a negotiating venue for parties in disagreement, and becoming the host country of international organizations.

As early as during the Cold War, Austria, because of its neutral status and geographical location between the two major military organizations of NATO and the Warsaw Pact, has repeatedly become a bridge between the two camps of the East and the West.

For example, in June 1961, the meeting between then US President Kennedy and Soviet leader Khrushchev was held at the Belvedere Palace in Vienna, the capital of Austria.

Austria's unique international status not only attracted the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), the European Security Organization and some United Nations agencies to settle in Vienna, but also made Vienna a famous "spy capital" during the Cold War.

Today, Austria's diplomatic tradition of actively serving as a "bridge builder" between the East and the West has not changed. For example, the ongoing "Iran nuclear deal negotiation" is also taking place in Vienna.

  It is not difficult to see that, taking advantage of the escalation of the Ukraine crisis, the United States continues to create security fears, and strongly encourages and incites Finland and Switzerland to join NATO, making the strategic security confrontation between European countries and Russia enter a vicious circle, using military bloc confrontation to seek absolute security, and coercing regional partners. Taking sides and taking sides will only exacerbate global uncertainty and turmoil.