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Bildt WikiLeak 'troublesome' if true: MP
Billström, Bildt and Iraqi Foreign Affairs Minister Hoshyar Zebari in Baghdad

Bildt WikiLeak 'troublesome' if true: MP

Published: 21 Jan 2011 08:48 GMT+01:00
Updated: 21 Jan 2011 15:32 GMT+01:00

A Green Party member is considering reporting Foreign Minister Carl Bildt and Migration Minister Tobias Billström to a parliamentary committee following a WikiLeak exposing statements that they made in 2007 about Iraqi refugees.

Bildt and Billström are the subject of renewed criticism following the revelation. At the time, Bildt stated Sweden's demands for a tougher immigration policy. The opinions were expressed during a meeting between the two ministers and a US ambassador.

Bildt and Billström attended a breakfast meeting with then-Swedish ambassador to Iraq Niclas Trouvé and then-US ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker, according to the classified documents on Iraqi immigration to Sweden, Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) reported on Friday.

The problem was the Iraqis that Sweden did not want to grant residence permits to. Bildt wanted an agreement with Iraq on the return of these asylum seekers. Without one, it would have been impossible to establish a Swedish embassy in Baghdad, said Bildt, according to the documents.

"Without rules and regulations for sending those without permits back, the immigration problem would be out of control in a country of 9 million inhabitants," Bildt allegedly said.

The ministers also spoke about several honour killings in Sweden, which led to demands from the Swedes to a stricter immigration policy.

Several politicians, among them Ceballos, have reacted strongly against the remarks. She believes that the adaptation to the Sweden Democrats' agenda is illustrated in the WikiLeaks documents.

"On the part of the Moderates, they have adapted to the xenophobic forces, which [Prime Minister Fredrik] Reinfeldt said that they would never do," she said.

On Friday morning, Green Party foreign affairs critic Bodil Ceballos announced she was considering reporting Bildt and Billström to the Swedish parliament's, the Riksdag's, committee on the constitution in the wake of the remarks.

"Our government speaks broadly about human rights and this is one way of actually violating human rights and that is not their duty," Ceballos told television channel TV4's news programme on Friday.

Ceballos said that the reasons that Bildt and Billström have referenced for limiting the number of Iraqi refugees should not be the deciding factors for the Swedish authorities.

"The Swedish National Migration Board [Migrationsverket] should decide on the basis of each person's protection needs, not based on whether they are easy to integrate or whether they come from areas where honour-related violence occurs," she said.

Like several others, Cecilia Wikström, European Parliament member for the Liberal Party, hoped that the ministers were misquoted.

"It is appalling rhetoric. I really hope and do not want to believe that they may have said something so abominable," she told SvD on Friday.

Centre Party member Fredrick Federley commented that he himself would not have used such language.

Neither Bildt nor Billström have commented on any documents released by WikiLeaks.

"Due to the fact that it is a wikileaks document, we will not comment on it," Bildt's press secretary Anna Charlotta Johansson told The Local on Friday.

Emma Henriksson, migration policy spokeswoman for the Christian Democrats, found the documents "troublesome" and said that she would bring them up with Bildt when she meets with him next week and ask if they are actually true.

"I wouldn't have thought that this would be the way someone representing the Swedish government would express themselves. From the first quote, you can't really see if it is Carl Bildt's words or if it is the way he put it," she told The Local on Friday.

The use of the term "illegal aliens" to describe the Iraqi asylum seekers concerned Henriksson the most.

"The quotes called the refugees illegal, but a person cannot be illegal. Perhaps they weren't entitled under our rules to have asylum here, but it's not illegal to seek asylum," she pointed out.

Henriksson believes it is timely that the report came out just after Sweden deported 20 refugees back to Iraq on Thursday.

"I don't think it's ironic, but perhaps timely. We have a lot of refugees from Iraq. It is important that we give each and every one of them the possibility to seek asylum. If they are not entitled to seek asylum, then we try to help them return to Iraq and help them in different ways," she said.

"Among the Christian minority, there are a number who are not entitled to asylum, it is very troublesome," she added.

Henriksson added that it is important that the migration board has the most updated and accurate information about minorities in Iraq and their situation present situation given that the conditions can change from week to week.

"It is important for the European Court of Human Rights to look at their cases to see if they should go back or if they should have intervened. They looked through all their cases and situations and there were no grounds for the court to tell the Swedish state to intervene," she said.

"I think we still need to improve our knowledge of the situation so we don't send back the wrong people," she added.

TT/The Local/vt (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

09:34 January 21, 2011 by RobinHood
I read this piece carefully, but can't find anything Bildt said to the Americans, in what he thought to be privacy, to be particularly controversial.

He said he wanted rules and regulations for returning failed Iraqi asylum seekers, and an agreement with Iraq how to do this. He also wanted a Swedish embassy in Baghdad. This all seems a perfectly sensible thing for a foreign minister to say. He also said (so called) honour killings were putting Swedes off immigration. This is probably true.

Which part "violates human rights", is "xenophobic", "abominable", "appalling rhetoric", or a "breach of duty"?

This is a perfect example of how difficult it is to have a grown-up discussion about immigration issues in Sweden without harridans like Cecilia Wikström and Bodil Ceballos calling people racists at the drop of a hat.
09:40 January 21, 2011 by Yuretz
Russian proverb (direct translation): Where was born there handy! Actually Iraqis leave their country to other with just a one reason TO SAVE THEIR LIFES!

Ask American Why they don't want to recieve refugees on their territory? They could be teach them a main principals of democracy and after several months (years) return them to their motherland. To build a happiness in future.
09:43 January 21, 2011 by Ravioli
Appalling rhetoric? Abominable? That's what Wikström and Ceballos call enforcement of the (already weak) laws and an honest assessment of the current refugee/asylum seeker situation in Sweden. Sad. I call Wikström and Ceballos' comments appalling and abominable. It sounds like they are far out of touch with what is actually happening in their own country. It is refreshing to see high-ranking government officials sharing the opinions of the common people. It is very disappointing to see The Local slanted reporting once again.
09:44 January 21, 2011 by Nemesis
I am going to make a really radical sugestion to the journalists from the local.

How about linking to what you are talking about or even giving exact quotes in the article, instead of leaving us to guess what the actual leak states.
10:17 January 21, 2011 by HYBRED
@Yuretz> America takes in more refugees than Sweden ever dreamed of.

These Iraq "refugees" leave because they are to big of wimps to fight for their own freedom. They let someone else do their dirty work. They come to Sweden because of the over generous offering by the government here. But that is not good enough, instead of adapting to Swedish society they try to turn Sweden into the sewer they just left.

By most accounts Iraq now has a democraticlly elected government. They should nullify any claim to be a refugee. Meaning there is nothing to be a refugee from so they should all go home.
10:37 January 21, 2011 by Kevin Harris
"Bildt critical of Iraqi refugees"

Would someone from The Local please justify this headline. I can't find any criticism of Iraqi refugees in the text. Did you leave that bit out, or did you just stick an innacurate headline on top to mislead your readers?
10:54 January 21, 2011 by big5
Very sloppy of The Local to retranslate the Swedish translation of an English original back into English, instead of quoting the English original.

This journalistic shoddiness is reflected in many other ways in this article.
11:08 January 21, 2011 by big5
Here's the actual leaked document:

11:52 January 21, 2011 by big5
Ceballos's criticism as described above is deceptive and entirely beside the point, as the actual document says the following:

"He [Bildt] said that in 2007, the GOS expected 20,000 asylum petitions and would approve approximately 74 percent. The 26 percent not approved were the reason Iraqi immigration had become a Swedish domestic issue and that concluding a return agreement was critically important for the GOS."

What this means is that the minority of Iraqi asylum seekers whose applications are rejected are the ones who should not be allowed to stay in Sweden (plain common sense). Their cases have been studied in the ordinary way by migrationsverket. It's not about processing Iraqi asylum applications differently because of honor killings or the applicants' levels of education, as Ceballos claims. Nowhere is anything like that said.
12:41 January 21, 2011 by Yuretz
To HYBRED: Anybody asked Iraqi Do they want to fight for freedom? I guess the answer is clear: NO!
15:12 January 21, 2011 by calebian22
It is laugable that realistic concerns about honor killings and the repatriation of rejected asylum seekers is considered abominable rhetoric. Only a liberal idiot would label it so.
15:18 January 21, 2011 by Mr. Puppy
What I want to know is why gay and Christian Iraqis are sent back to Iraq whilst anti-gay and anti-Christian Iraqis are not. When I went to SFI there was a lot of conflict between those Iraqis that left Islam for Christianity (there was no conflict between the Iraqis who were born into Christian families, only against people who left Islam due to most Islamic scholars still saying that people don't have a right to change their birth-religion) leading in one case to a student having to stop SFI because the school couldn't protect him from anti-Christian death threats and bullying IN SWEDEN.

I think that something is wrong with Migrationsverket, and you do not have to be a racist or even right-wing to realize this... I'm normally a supporter of Miljöpartiet and Vänsterpartiet, but the only thing I really disagree with them on is calling people racist for just suggesting that there are problems with the immigration system as it is now. There are openly problems. At my SFI school over half of every class were Iraqi. That is not diversity, that does not lead to successful Swedish learning all around, everyone, including the teachers who are very supportive of immigration, agree that it sucks to teach classes that are not diverse, and this lack of diversity in immigration can only lead to the building up of parallel societies. I was thinking about this the other day... Haiti is a disaster-stricken country just like Iraq but why aren't there a lot of Haitian immigrants to Sweden? I think that if the Swedish government wants to encourage more strategic immigration from different places through establishing embassies and sending back people who were denied their residence permits in order to make room for more diversity within immigration, that should be applauded and not denounced as racism.
16:08 January 21, 2011 by Nemesis
I have went for coffee with Iraqi's last year when at SFI.

The casual conversation turned to a gay iraqi who walked past the resturant. They were complaining that he had not been killed when living in Iraq.

A sign of the mentality to come.

@ big5,

Thanks for the link.

Now I can read what the article is actually about.

The journalists at the local should be linking out to material they quote so that readers can get a better understanding of what the article is about.
16:24 January 21, 2011 by Uncle
This is exactly why the left are losing positions in Parliament. Their reasoning is conflicting with the real world. Nowadays no one can even say the word "refugee", "gay" or "woman" without being labeled "racist", "bigot" or "chauvinist".

Like this the conflict avert swedes are shoving problems under the carpet and avoid every issue except the weather and the oncoming fika on Friday. The result is that many get tired of it and their (quiet) opinion becomes more and more radical (or practical for some).

First, Bildt DOES have a right to discuss current criteria of Migrationsverket. It is actually his JOB to make sure that these authorities are in line with reason and the will of the swedish society. If he does not like their actions or on a contrary - likes them, he should express his opinion.

Moreover, he can propose a law that would change these actions and by that, steer the authorities.

At the same time, left wing just squeels and barks in order to get SOME attention after their fiasco in every political front.

Also, why would it be reasonable for Iraq to demand for REFUSED refugees (or legally - not refugees, but just trespassers) to still stay in Sweden? Then they would not be refused, would they now? Let's let ANYONE, who saved enough for a plane ticket to stay here? Why not?
16:46 January 21, 2011 by CarlBlack
Yuretz: How would you like to do the asking? Maybe suggest to Hussein to organize a referendum in his Iraq whether people want to overthrow him by Americans or not :-) Currently the situation in Iraq is much safer than at other places, and in Afghanistan according to reports local people typically are not unhappy with American presence but with the fact that soldiers are often unable to protect them from Taliban.
17:29 January 21, 2011 by zircon
Sweden use to be competent with foreigners / ethnic minorities. What is biting you nowadays?
18:06 January 21, 2011 by Archie1954
I think it much more likely than not that Foreign Minister Bildt is guilty as charged. I also believe that it was he who interfered with the Swedish judicial system to overturn a seniour prosecutor's decision to drop all charges against Mr. Assange. If there were a real chance of getting justice from a kangaroo Swedish court, I'm sure Mr. Assange would return willingly. After Bildt's obstruction and the refusal of the department of justice to question Mr. Assange in London, it's no wonder he feels he is being railroaded and at the request of the American government I'll bet.
18:33 January 21, 2011 by krattan
The fuss is as far as I've understood not about Bildt actually discussing these things but that the Riksdag (Parliament) had not been informed about it and what the governments (Regeringens) line of policy really were. A problem since the Riksdag (Parliament) is the ones who are supposed to review the governments (Regeringens) work, keep a discussion going and in the end keep the public informed.

As for refusing to talk which all parties except MP has chosen to do just because the information came from Wikileaks. That's just cowardly! The future will hold many more cases like this so politicians better start talking to the people they are set to represent so that we can make informed decisions!
19:58 January 21, 2011 by expatjourno
This is bunch of BS. Refugees are entitled to settlement in the first safe country they can get to. For Iraqis, that's probably Turkey. They are not entitled to shop around the world for the most generous welfare state.
20:25 January 21, 2011 by MarkinBoston
Some Swedes won't be satisfied until Sweden isn't Swedish any more. Do they really think that Iraqis will vote for left parties?

Lenin said that the capitalists would sell the rope used to hang the last capitalist. More to the point today, leftists will admit the last refugee who makes the majority that rounds up the remaining leftists. Good luck with that.
21:50 January 21, 2011 by locaxy
Nationalistic sentiments are growing in Sweden. I think it
16:23 January 22, 2011 by AHA
IF TRUE then: Shame on you Carl Bildt. Shame on you Tobias Billström. You should both leave the Moderate party and join the Sweden Democrats party.
17:05 January 22, 2011 by Uncle
"IF TRUE then: Shame on you Carl Bildt"

If true - what? If what is true?

If true that there is a need for rules and regulations for those asylum seekers that were refused? Then we don't need rules and regulations? So everyone who wants a law implemented is a member of SD?

Or is it true that Carl Bildt mentions honour killings? Is it not allowed to mention honour killings? Honour killings do not exist? Are they less of a problem than some politician MENTIONING them?

This is also wonderful muslim method. Suicide bombings? They are not a problem. These bombings disturb people? This is the real problem!

Honour killings? What is the problem? The problem is that we even MENTION these killings.

Nothing that this wonderful culture brings here seems to be a problem... The real problem is DISCUSSING these issues.
20:29 January 22, 2011 by Ravioli
Uncle, you are spot on. I think it's great that these issues are finally coming to the surface and especially with someone who has the stature of Carl Bildt. It proves that the politicians are FINALLY coming to understand what the Swedish people have been dealing with for the last 20+ years.

Now is the true test of Carl Bildt's manhood. Will he be a coward and apologize for or play down his comments for the sake of political correctness? Or will he be an honest man and stand up for what he said, which we all know is the truth? The answer to this question is VERY important to Sweden's future. Let's hope he's a man.
21:45 January 22, 2011 by bira
I see nothing wrong with Carl Bildt's position after reading the document. Of course there should be an agreement of what to do with asylum seekers not approved to remain in the country. I don't know what rock Bodil crawled out from under, but if she believes that the nation is better off without such an agreement then she has not business being in the position that she is in. Good Lord, how naive can a person be?
11:51 January 23, 2011 by big5
As I wrote in post #9 nothing in the reported conversation suggests that Iraqi asylum-seekers should be denied individual evaluations of their case based on their need for protection. Critic after vocal critic in the media have been making this claim, but it is false.

It was a question of arranging for regulated procedures for returning those whose applications have been denied after due process.
13:05 January 23, 2011 by AHA
You don´t bargain, you don´t make deals and you don´t twist arms when people´s lives are at stake.

"We don´t accept certain people because they MIGHT commit honour-related crimes". What nonsens. How can,on earth, one tell?

On the other hand if a refugee commits a crime then don´t waste time , send him or her back. This message should be loud and clear.

I believe thah most you "commentators" can Swedish. Please watch:

Youtube´s Uppreninssvennen - Tobias Billström (m). He, obviously, does not have the retoric capability of Carl Bildt.

I still Say: Shame on both.
13:17 January 23, 2011 by big5
@AHA: We don´t accept certain people because they MIGHT commit honour-related crimes

This was not what was said. This is a false characterization of the document made by some politicians and media. You are reacting to a red herring.
14:13 January 23, 2011 by here for the summer
this article is the final straw . I will no longer read the local. As pointed out the headline is a incorrect assessment of the article. The local is obviously not a news machine but an advocate for causes.
22:10 January 23, 2011 by Uncle
@AHA: We don´t accept certain people because they MIGHT commit honour-related crimes

Actual quote:

"The ministers also spoke about several honour killings in Sweden, which led to demands from the Swedes to a stricter immigration policy."

I am sure that they also discussed the weather in Sweden. I am also sure that "AHA" may assume thay Bildt claimed that "certain people" should not be accepted because it is cold in Sweden.

Regular muslim propaganda and word manipulation...
06:48 January 24, 2011 by technoviking
Heaven forbid a politician should say something completely realistic and fact based about immigration rather than nonsensical PC rhetoric...

Good for you Mr. Bildt. This is the penalty for speaking the truth in Sweden I guess.
20:36 January 25, 2011 by big5
One can only hope The Local will translate Hans Bergströms excellent column in Dagens Nyheter on this pseudo-scandal.

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