News about Swedish Foreign Policy

October 6th, 2010   Articles

A Statement of Government Policy was presented by the Swedish Prime Minister, Mr Fredrik Reinfeldt, at the annual opening of Parliament on 5 October 2010. He emphasized that when it comes to efforts for human rights and democracy “there is a particular need for action to further strengthen freedom of expression and of religion”. Mr. Reinfeldt noted that “the Internet is bringing the world ever closer together. We will put new strength into efforts to ensure the freedom and security of the Internet”.

Excerpt in regards to foreign policy in the Statement of Government Policy:

Sweden must be a strong voice for peace, freedom and reconciliation in Europe and the world. We must be a clear force for a common European foreign policy that safeguards and develops democracy, international law and human rights and freedoms.

An open world and an open global economy continue to raise people out of poverty. Not only is sustained globalisation in our own interests, but it also creates global opportunities to move from oppression to freedom, and from poverty to prosperity. Open, tolerant and gender-equal societies increase the freedom of individuals and create better conditions for economic, social and cultural development.

Sweden must be at the heart of European cooperation. We want a Europe that can be a strong force for open societies in an open world; that can tear down walls and barriers and build confidence and cooperation over the divisions and prejudices of the past.

Sweden must be proactive on issues that are crucial to the development of the EU. The internal market must be deepened in order to continue to build welfare in Europe. Common rules are needed to expedite economic recovery in Europe and prevent new crises. We want an open Europe that welcomes new members. The Neighbourhood Policy, not least in the form of the Eastern Partnership, has an important role to play.

A strong UN is a cornerstone of Swedish foreign policy. Sweden is working for a more effective and efficient UN that is even better placed to tackle the global challenges of the future. This applies not least to climate change. Sweden and the EU will continue to take the lead in this work. During this electoral period, we will also reinforce our initiatives to ensure that the Millennium Development Goals can be achieved by 2015.

In efforts for human rights and democracy there is a particular need for action to further strengthen freedom of expression and of religion.

Changing times bring new challenges. The Internet is bringing the world ever closer together. We will put new strength into efforts to ensure the freedom and security of the Internet.

We will continue our efforts for arms controls – including in our own part of the world – and for a world without nuclear weapons. The further proliferation of weapons of mass destruction must be prevented. North Korea and Iran must respect international obligations and the decisions of the UN Security Council.

We will continue Sweden’s tradition of support to and participation in international peace-keeping operations. We will also continue to seek broad parliamentary support for such operations. Our involvement in Afghanistan and Kosovo is broad and long-term.

Sweden is working for a comprehensive peace in the Middle East. We have a strong joint European policy. Israel’s occupation and settlement policy must cease, a contiguous and viable Palestinian state must be created, terrorism must cease and Israel’s right to exist within secure and recognised borders must be respected.

It will soon be 20 years since Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania re-established their independence. We want to continue to strengthen cooperation in the Nordic and Baltic regions, in all policy areas.

Sweden must have an ambitious development policy that focuses on poverty reduction. Efforts to create generous, effective and open aid are continuing. Democratic development and respect for human rights and freedoms within development cooperation remain a key basic value. The fight for increased gender equality is one of the most important democratic challenges of our time.

The safety and security of our country is based on fellowship and cooperation with other countries. A broad national consensus must continue to provide the framework for the design of our security policy. This security policy remains firmly in place.

It is clear that our country will not remain passive should another EU Member State or another Nordic country be struck by disaster or attacked. By the same token, we expect these countries to take similar action should Sweden be so affected.

Sweden must have an available, functional and flexible defence that can safeguard our country’s freedom and independence, alone and alongside others.

An operational organisation with permanent and contracted units is being created for operations at home, in our region and internationally. To increase functionality and flexibility, resources are being transferred from support and peripheral activities to unit activities. This new organisation is being constructed as and when these resources can be freed up. The Home Guard is being developed into national protection forces. These have a key role in the Swedish defence – their role and capability will increase.

Through our participation in the Nordic Battle Group, one of two EU rapid reaction forces, Sweden is taking responsibility for peace and security within and outside our region. Sweden will command the Nordic Battle Group in 2011. We should also have the ambition of undertaking its command in 2014.

Ahead of the next decision on the long-term direction of policy, for the period beyond 2015, the demands posed by developments in the rest of the world will be studied. Particular consideration will be given to dynamics in our region and in Russia.

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