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Sweden equals Germany in EU foreign policy sway

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A Ukrainian demonstrator wrapped in an EU flag. File photo: AP/TT
17:15 CET+01:00
Sweden came out third in Europe in a new ranking of EU member states' foreign policy influence, including foreign aid, human rights, and free trade with the US.

"Sweden was once again a 'leader' on a wide range of issues – aid contributions, efforts on human rights issues in Russia and Ukraine, relations with Russia on the Syria conflict, and TTIP," stated a Thursday summary published in conjunction with the latest European Foreign Policy Scorecard.

The report, put together by the European Council of Foreign Relations (ECFR), looked at how European countries and EU institutions act in regards to key foreign policy areas.

While Sweden kept a low profile vis-à-vis China, the scorecard said it was top dog in Russian affairs. It marked Sweden as one of the leaders in helping the European Commission resist Russian pressure on eastern European nations. Sweden also had a strong voice when it came to the rule of law, human rights, and free press in Russia. Expanding even further, the scorecard noted that Sweden had put pressure on Russia to help resolve the Syrian civil war. 

"Sweden stood out as the most principled member state," the report said about EU member states' attitude to Moscow. "Germany also criticized Russia but, given its relationship with Russia, could perhaps have done more."
 
 
"(Sweden's) activism extends from work alongside Poland in the eastern neighbourhood, to its support for Turkish membership, and  traditional strengths such as welcoming refugees, support for multilateralism, and development aid," the report stated. 

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After the complicated tally, Sweden emerged as one of the most vocal foreign policy actors in the EU. 

"This year, Swedes was ranked in shared third place with Germany," the Swedish government said in a statement. "Only France and the UK are placed ahead (of Sweden)."

"We are considered to be at the same level as the three biggest member states," Foreign Minister Carl Bildt said. "The government works with purpose and effort to make EU foreign policy reflect Swedish values. The ranking shows that this work has paid off, and that Swedish diplomats' efforts make a difference."

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