Cablegate: Sweden's Foreign Policy Statement 2010 - No More

DE RUEHSM #0089/01 0571446
P 261446Z FEB 10



E.O. 12958: N/A

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Reftel: Stockholm 68
2009 Stockholm 749


1. On February 17, Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt presented the
Government's annual Foreign Policy Statement to the Parliament --
the first such statement to be delivered since the Lisbon Treaty
came into force. In it, Bildt outlined a Swedish foreign policy
more integrated into the EU's Common Foreign and Security Policy
(CFSP) than ever before, where the priority is to strengthen the EU
as a global actor. "This is the best way to safeguard our values
and national interests in an increasingly complex world." Other

--On Afghanistan, Bildt pledged Sweden would increase its
development efforts and work to strengthen the EU's civilian
presence as outlined in the AfPak "Blue Book" published during the
Swedish EU Presidency.

--On Russia, Bildt toned down his remarks, largely avoiding the
criticism of previous years. He merely welcomed Moscow's statements
about the importance of rule of law.

--"Iran is on course for confrontation with the rest of the world,"
Bildt said, adding that oppression of human rights activists is
"unacceptable." Tehran has failed to explain its intentions behind
its nuclear program, and on this matter the international community
"must act in unison."

End Summary.

Security Policy: No More Neutrality

2. At the outset of his Foreign Policy Statement, Bildt stressed
that the Lisbon Treaty is "a decisive step" and "membership of the
European Union means that Sweden is part of a political alliance and
takes its share of responsibility, in the spirit of solidarity, for
Europe's security." He reiterated the Swedish "solidarity clause"
first uttered in 2007: "Sweden will not remain passive if another EU
Member State or Nordic country suffers a disaster or an attack. We
expect these countries to act the same way if Sweden is similarly

3. Note: In comparison, the 2009 Statement's focus was on Nordic
military cooperation, and the importance of "close cooperation with
NATO" -- something not mentioned this time. However, when
interviewed after the debate, Bildt said he is open to the
possibility of an investigation into Swedish NATO membership.
Separately, the solidarity clause stems from two reports from the
Parliamentary Defense Commission (comprised of representatives from
all parties in Parliament). The language that Sweden will not stay
passive if an attack would strike another EU member or Nordic
country first appeared in the report of 2007; this "solidarity
clause" was approved by all seven parties in Parliament. By 2008,
the second report added that "this means that Sweden can contribute
with military support in crises and conflict situations." End Note.

Afghanistan: More Development, More EU Civilians
--------------------------------------------- ---

4. "Threats that originate far away from Sweden can be just as
palpable as those that are rooted in our proximity," Bildt stated,
adding that extremist groups in Afghanistan and Pakistan have
demonstrated abilities in carrying out attacks with far-reaching
consequences. Some 90% of heroin on Swedish streets comes from
Afghanistan. Therefore, Sweden should continue to contribute with
both civilian and military resources to "successfully complete our
mission in Afghanistan." Referring to the killing of two Swedish
officers earlier in the month (Ref A), Bildt said, "Only by
successfully completing our mission in Afghanistan can we show that
the losses suffered were not in vain." (Note: since the deaths,
opinion polls indicate growing public support for Swedish troops in
Afghanistan.) He also stated it is the Government's intention to
increase Sweden's development aid efforts and to strengthen the EU's
civilian operations as outlined in the "far-reaching action plan"
Sweden drew up during its EU Presidency outlining "the European
Union's commitment to this vulnerable region." (Ref B)

5. MP Goran Lennmarker, Chairman of the Parliament's Foreign Affairs
Committee, said in the debate following Bildt's presentation that
"It is us that need to do the job...what would happen if we left
ISAF?" Arguing that a Taliban government would not be accepted in
large parts of Afghan society, he added, "It is therefore important
to stress that we in Parliament have a broad agreement...six (Note:
of seven total) parties support Swedish troops in Afghanistan."

Russia: Toning Down the Rhetoric

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6. On Russia, Bildt abandoned his usual harsh criticism, saying only
that "Sweden welcomes the Russian President's statements on the
importance of a functioning rule of law and an extensive
modernization of Russian society" and expressing hope that Russia
will become a member of the WTO. Note: In contrast, in 2008 Bildt
expressed concern over Russia's "authoritarian direction" and
strongly criticized "Russia's aggression against Georgia" -- "an
unacceptable violation of the territorial integrity of another
state," as well as "a blow to the international law that is the very
basis of peaceful and stable relations between states." The
Government remained critical in 2009, asserting in its defense bill
that Moscow had ambitions to regain its former position as a
superpower and highlighting concerns over developments in the
Russian armed forces. "The Georgia War demonstrated that the
Russian threshold for using military violence in its neighboring
region was reduced." The Government acknowledged that Russia had
vital interests in Belarus, Ukraine, the Barents Sea and the Arctic,
but maintained that "these regions must be considered to be part of
the larger Swedish sphere of interest" as well. End Note.

EU Expansion

7. Bildt took credit for the Swedish EU Presidency's work on
European integration process in the Western Balkans, mentioning
Croatia's membership negotiations, visa liberalization for Macedonia
(FYROM) and Montenegro, and Serbia's EU membership application. He
also spoke of continued Swedish support to Turkish and Icelandic EU
membership and stressed the importance of implementing the Eastern
Partnership program.

Iran and the Middle East

8. "Iran is on course for confrontation with the rest of the world,"
Bildt said, adding that oppression of human rights activists is
"unacceptable." Tehran has failed to explain its intentions behind
its nuclear program, and on this matter the international community
"must act in unison." A credible peace process between Israelis and
Palestinians needs to be established to achieve a two-state
solution, he continued. There needs to be a "clear voice of Europe"
in this matter. "The conclusions adopted by the European Union
during the Swedish Presidency gave a firm foundation for its
continued policy in the area. Among other points, the conclusions
establish that the negotiations are to be based on the pre-1967
borders, the settlements are illegal, all final status issues are to
be included in the negotiations - including the status of Jerusalem
as capital of two states - and both parties are to refrain from
provocative actions."

Internet Security

9. Bildt said the government will prioritize freedom and security in
communication systems and will answer the call of the UN's Special
Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression to participate in developing
protection for freedom of expression in electronic media. Bildt
announced that a special government reference group will be
appointed. BARZUN

© Scoop Media

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