10 years of Nordic defence: the correlation between perception of threat and ambition for defence cooperation in the Nordic Council 2009-2018
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Defence and security have during the last decade become an increasingly important part of the Nordic cooperation that traditionally has been defined mainly by the absence of these questions on the agenda. In my thesis I will look at ambition for Nordic defence cooperation and how the changed perception of Russia after 2014 has affected the ambition for it in the Nordic Council. Theoretically I rely on Stephen Walt’s Balance of Threat theory with the expectation that more perceived threat leads to more alignment. The choice of the neorealist approach is justified by first looking at the core of why nations align and then conceptualizing the Nordic cooperation in defence as a form of alignment. The empirical part of the research consists of a cross-temporal comparison of ambition for Nordic defence cooperation in the international debates of the annual sessions of the Nordic Council before (2009-2013) and after (2014-2018) the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014, which has been defined as a turning point in the Nordic and European security environment. This turn should imply a higher perception of threat in the debate. Using thematical grouping of the data I identify patterns that help me measure the correlation between perception of threat and ambition for Nordic defence cooperation in Nordic parliamentary cooperation. By observing the data, I show that the level of perceived threat for the period 2009-2013 is low and the ambition for regional defence cooperation is high, while the level of perceived threat 2014-2018 is high but the ambition for regional defence cooperation low. I also present other variables inductively drawn from the data that might explain the changes in the level of ambition better than the changed level of threat.