‘Swedish aid to challenge the world’s dictatorships’

The Swedish government has announced changes to pro-democracy aid. Aid should have clear goals and focus on measures that support democracy, said the Minister for International Development, Gunilla Carlsson at a press conference in Gothenburg on Saturday.

Carlsson detailed the new guidelines for pro-democracy aid in debate article in Dagens Nyheter on Saturday, emphasizing liberal free-market values and a closer cooperation with local actors.

The minister stated that Swedish embassies can be used to maintain contact with dissidents and organisations which are working to support democracy in their host countries. Carlsson conceded that this could involve risks for Swedish staff and those with which they collaborate.

“We may have to conduct certain activities under secrecy, that are not put in writing. We will work in ways that the world’s dictatorships have reason to fear.”

In response to a question as to whether this will mean that Sweden will need to reinforce its security services, Carlsson confirmed that this could be the result.

“We need to have better information within the foreign office,” she said.

As an example of the type of measures that Sweden could employ to support human rights, Carlsson responded that the embassy in Cuba would open its doors to citizens critical of the regime.

“This is a way to irritate the regime, but also an way of working effectively with dissidents,” the minister said.