• Sweden's news in English
 
app_header_v3

'Swedes will compare this to the Holocaust'

Maddy Savage · 20 Apr 2015, 13:17

Published: 20 Apr 2015 13:17 GMT+02:00

The MEP – who is a long-time advocate of safer passage for refugees seeking safety in Europe – made headlines on Monday after she initially told Swedish television network SVT that future generations would liken the approach of EU governments to the policy of appeasement during the Second World War.
 
Speaking to The Local after the broadcast, the centre-right Liberal Party politician said: "I stand by what I was saying at breakfast time. I think that my children and grandchildren are going to ask why more wasn't done to help people running away from Isis, or violence in Eritrea or wherever, when we knew that people were dying in their thousands. People will ask the same question they did after the war, 'if you were aware, why didn't you do something?'. In Sweden we allowed our railroads to be used to transfer Jews to Nazi death camps."
 
"There are more refugees in the world today than during and after the Second World War...The world is on fire at the moment and we need to cope with that," she added.
 
"After the tragic events in Lampedusa in October 2013, heads of state stood by the coffins said it should never happen again. But there is a new Lampedusa every week and people are still willing to watch it happen."
 
Because national governments are responsible for most immigration policies, elected members of the European Parliament such as Wikström are limited to lobbying EU member states on the issue. 
 
But the politician, who sits in the conservative European People's Party grouping in Brussels and Strasbourg, says her campaign is attracting growing support across political bloc boundaries, with fellow MEPs such as Germany's Birgit Sippel and France's Sylvie Guillaume, who are both part of the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats. She hopes that her supporters can help influence national policies on the issue.
 
When asked about how Sweden's Social Democrat-Green coalition government had responded to her campaign, she told The Local: "It is very controversial. I cannot speak for the government or disclose what they have said. What I can say is I really wish for them to take the lead on this and put it [legal safe passage to Europe] into action as a national policy".
 
The Local has contacted the offices of Prime Minister Stefan Löfven and Foreign Minister Margot Wallström for comment.
 
 
Over the weekend Italy's Prime Minister Matteo Renzi criticized other EU nations for not doing enough to help his country cope with the surge of migrants trying to reach his country's shores and argued that international efforts needed to focus on returning stability to Libya, rather than on sea patrols and search-and-rescue resources.
 
Meanwhile Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said Europe risked "damaging our credibility if we are not able to prevent these tragic situations which are happening every day."
 
Aid and refugee organisations have also been quick to demand more cross-border cooperation on the issue.
 
"This disaster confirms how urgent it is to restore a robust rescue-at-sea operation and establish credible legal avenues to reach Europe. Otherwise people seeking safety will continue to perish at sea," said António Guterres, UN High Commissioner for Refugees.
 
"But it also points to the need for a comprehensive European approach to address the root causes that drive so many people to this tragic end. I hope the EU will rise to the occasion, fully assuming a decisive role to prevent future such tragedies."
 

Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja, left, speaks with Swedish Foreign Minister Margot
Wallström during a meeting of EU foreign ministers  in Luxembourg on Monday. Photo: TT
 
 
EU foreign and interior ministers began emergency talks in Luxembourg at 1pm GMT, with EU Home Affairs Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos also attending as the 28 member states try to find a solution to the growing tide of humanity washing up on its southern shores.
 
But European politians are deeply divided over how to tackle the issue, with many countries reluctant to change current rules, keen to retain their autonomy on immigration policies and concerned about the potential costs of helping refugees to reach safety in Europe.
Story continues below…
 
The UK for example is unlikely to back any controversial policy shifts in the run up to its general election in three weeks. In Finland, which held elections over the weekend, discussions are underway which could see a nationalist populist party forming part of the country's next coalition government.
 
As well as Monday's meeting, EU president Donald Tusk has said he is considering holding a special leader's summit on the crisis but no date has been fixed.
 
The latest disaster in Italy comes after a week in which two other migrant shipwrecks left an estimated 450 people dead.
 
Some 11,000 migrants have been rescued since the middle of last week and current trends suggest last year's total of 170,000 landing in Italy is likely to be exceeded in 2015.
 
Many travel onwards to other countries including Sweden, which takes in more asylum seekers per capita than any other EU nation.
 

For more news from Sweden, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Maddy Savage (maddy.savage@thelocal.com)

Today's headlines
Sweden murder probe after refugee centre death
One person had been detained and other potential witnesses were being questioned. Photo: TT

Swedish police on Sunday launched a murder investigation after a young woman was found dead at a shelter housing asylum-seekers.

Sweden trials electrified highway for trucks
The truck draws power as it moves at speeds of up to 90km/h (56mph) while putting out no emissions. Photo: Scania AB

The Swedish truck firm Scania, in partnership with German engineering company, Siemens, is developing the world’s first “eHighway”, a four kilometre stretch of highway north of Stockholm.

Brexit vote
Sweden opposition cools talk of 'Swexit' poll
Anna Kinberg Batra, of the largest opposition party, the Moderates. Photo: TT

"This is a sad day for the British and for Europe."

Brexit vote
Swedish PM swats aside calls for EU renegotiation
"Sweden will now lose an important partner in the EU," Löfven said. Photo: TT

Left Party calls "totally irresponsible."

Brexit vote
'Devastated' - Brits in Sweden shocked by Brexit vote

Expat Brits in Sweden have reacted with shock, despair and uncertainty to the result of the EU referendum in the UK which was won 52-48 by the Leave campaign.

Brexit vote
'A morning of sorrow': Sweden reacts to Brexit vote
Photo: TT

The former Swedish EU minister, Birgitta Ohlsson declared that it was 'a morning of sorrow', after British voters opted to leave the European Union on Thursday.

The Local Recipes
How to make Karin's delicious Midsummer cake
Karin's cake. Photo: swedishfood.com

"We are very tolerant of other cultures except when it comes to strawberries."

Sweden named the world's 'most reputable' country
The flag of the world's most reputable country – at least according to one report. Photo: Fredrik Sanberg/TT

Sweden has been ranked as the most reputable country in the world by a new report. Find out why.

Why most students don't finish Swedish for Immigrants
More students are taking Swedish for Immigrants classes, but completion rates are low. Photo: Pontus Lundahl

Only four in ten students finished their courses at Sweden's state-funded Swedish for Immigrants classes in 2015, according to new statistics from a national agency.

Swedish police nab drunk-driving lawnmower man
Lawnmowers: dangerous, in the wrong hands. Photo: Hasse Holmberg/TT

A man in southern Sweden is at risk of having his licence revoked after drunkenly driving a motorized lawnmower.

Sponsored Article
How to find student housing in Malmö: 5 tips
Culture
How do Swedes celebrate Midsummer?
Sponsored Article
'Sweden gives artists the space to follow their dreams'
Culture
Coming soon: Sweden’s smelly fermented fish
National
Assange lawyer: Sweden should recognize UN opinion
Blog updates

17 June

Queen’s Birthday Stockholm 2016: 9th June. 90th Birthday. 900 Guests! (The Diplomatic Dispatch) »

"What do you do when you read that the Queen’s 90th Birthday in London will be…" READ »

 

10 June

i lördags, på lördag – time phrases for present, past and future (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hejsan! Swedish time phrases can be difficult to master. It takes a lot of practice to…" READ »

 
 
 
Sponsored Article
5 reasons you should try dating with The Inner Circle
Private
The Local Voices
Why is this Syrian dentist who hugs like a Swede worried about undies?
Sponsored Article
The man behind Sweden's biggest music festival
Swedish nationalist 'shot and ate' lion and giraffe
Analysis & Opinion
'Sweden's residency revamp is harmful and inhumane'
Photo: The Local
The Local Voices
UNHCR boss: 'It's hard to start your life without your family'
Sponsored Article
US expats: Have you met your tax deadlines?
Politics
VIDEO: Brits in Europe say why UK should stay
Sponsored Article
Education abroad: How to find an international school
Photo: Marko Risović
The Local Voices
World Refugee Day: Searching for safety in Europe - in pictures
National
Is Swedish nationalists’ foreign food ban bananas?
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Gallery
Property of the week: Söråker
Sponsored Article
Malmö: Home to the best food in Sweden?
International
Poll shows huge support for EU in Sweden
The Local Voices
How a Syrian scuba diver mobilized Sweden's biggest asylum centre
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
Sport
Zlatan: 'If we'd been fighting for real, he'd be in hospital'
Sponsored Article
VIDEO: Why Malmö is the world's 6th best city for biking
The Local Voices
Orlando reflections: Is it possible to be gay and Muslim?
Sponsored Article
5 reasons you should try dating with The Inner Circle
Sweden to go ahead with migrant age tests
Sponsored Article
US expats: Have you met your tax deadlines?
Gallery
People-watching: June 17th-19th
Sponsored Article
Stockholm school celebrates Nepal Project success
National
Will you be hit by changes to Sweden's residency laws?
Sponsored Article
6 simple travel hacks that will make your life easier
The Local Voices
Why an Iraqi who won Swedish lottery won't quit his restaurant job
Gallery
People-watching: Midweek revellers
National
Why this pizzeria is giving elderly Swedes free meatballs
3,313
jobs available
PSD Media
PSD Media is marketing company that offers innovative solutions for online retailers. We provide modern solutions that help increase traffic and raise conversion. Visit our site at:
psdmedia.se