“Wallström should go” after holocaust speech

Left Party politicians in Sweden have called on European Commission vice-president Margot Wallström to resign, after she appeared to insinuate that Eurosceptics were paving the way for another Holocaust. Wallström's comments came in a speech she was due to make during a visit to the site of a concentration camp in the city of Theresienstadt, or Terezin, in the Czech Republic.

She criticized those who want to take away the powers of European Union’s central bodies and replace them with intergovernmental cooperation.

“There are those today who want to scrap the supranational idea. They want the European Union to go back to the old purely inter-governmental way of doing things. I say these people should come to Terezin and see where the old road leads to,” said Wallström.

Her statement caused an immediate reaction among politicians in Sweden and in other countries, and now some of her former allies in Sweden are calling on her to resign.

Jonas Sjöstedt, an MEP from the Left Party, a left-wing Eurosceptic party allied to the ruling Social Democrats. was among those calling her to go. He called Wallström’s words “distressing and irresponsible.”

“When the person responsible for information for the EU commission uses the Holocaust as a weapon against those of us who are critical of the way the union is developing, she has crossed a line.”

Sjöstedt has previously been a supporter of Wallström’s, even though they come from different political parties.

“I think that she has been a good commissioner on environmental issues, but this has reduced her completely,” said Sjöstedt to TT.

Other opposition parties in Sweden also slammed Wallström’s words. The Moderate Party’s Gunnar Hökmark said Wallström had shown “an appalling lack of understanding of history”.

Wallströms colleague, Lena Ag, stated to TT that the controversial line was never included in the final draft of the speech. But it was published on Wallströms homepage and handed out to journalists in advance.

Prime Minister Göran Persson has also come out in Wallström’s defence, saying that calls for her resignation are an overreaction:

“She is so intelligent and experienced that she would never have meant or dreamt of saying what people are claiming she did. What she means is that after the Second World War, with all the imminent dangers, the European Union grew as a reaction.”

On her blog, Wallström states that some of the newspapers had “totally misinterpreted what I said”.

“I think it is incredible that a mark of respect for the past and the suffering of the 35,000 people who died in Terezin should be used in this way. My message was to outline the reality of the history of the European Union and the importance to ensure this never happens again.”

Sources: Dagens Nyheter, Svenska Dagbladet, Expressen