The Swedish Government has decided to upgrade the office in Tbilisi, Georgia to an embassy (so far the office has been administered from neighboring Embassies).

“There is a distinct need to strengthen the Swedish diplomatic presence in certain countries and areas [apart from in Georgia; in Mali, Moldova and Cambodia]. Since there is significant development cooperation between Sweden and these countries, there is also a need for a permanent Swedish presence. I.e. independent embassies,” according to the Swedish Foreign Minister, Carl Bildt.    

During the fall of 2010 the secretariats will be upgraded to embassies. This means that Sweden will be represented by a permanently stationed ambassador. The embassies will focus on dialogue, reporting on development cooperation, as well as politics and trade issues. The embassies will thus have restricted operations in regards to migration and consular services.

The Swedish government has decided to strengthen the Swedish presence in the Caucasus and in the Balkans. Today it was decided that the current offices in Pristina (Kosovo), Tbilisi (Georgia), Chisinau (Moldova) and Tirana (Albania), that up until this point have been administered from neighboring embassies, will be upgraded to embassies.

In Western Africa, offices will also be turned into embassies in Bamako (Mali), Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso) and in Monrovia (Liberia). The same goes for the office in Kigali (Rwanda), La Paz (Bolivia), and in Phnom Penh (Cambodia). Along with this decision the Swedish government has decided that the embassies in Bratislava, Dakar, Dublin, Ljubljana, Luxemburg and in Sofia will be closed.

– Within the framework of close cooperation between the EU member states, there are great possibilities to develop new ways of bilateral contacts in the future, says the Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt in a comment published by the Foreign Ministry. 

– To turn the Secretariats’ into embassies is a step towards, supporting the Swedish development efforts within certain countries. It is also a step on the road to further strengthening our long-term cooperation with these countries. A stronger presence is crucial for an effective collaboration with superior results, according to Gunilla Carlsson, Swedish Minister for International Development Cooperation.

Azerbaijan can be found in spot no 172 out of 197 countries ranked in the Freedom House Press Freedom Index for 2012. Azerbaijan shares this position with Russia and Zimbabwe. Compared with 2011, the conditions and opportunities for journalists to work freely have deteriorated slightly. In 2011, Azerbaijan was found  in place no 171.

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