“This has been a difficult and problematic negotiation that has certainly become more constructive and positive in the last week, but we have decided that Sweden will not be participating at the ministerial level,” she said.
In the days leading up to the conference, there have been intense discussions between, grossly oversimplified, “east and west” regarding differences over issues such as freedom of expression vs. religious freedom, the Holocaust and colonialism.
In the last week, the negotiations have led to the drafting of a document that has been seen by the conference as a success, according to Sabuni. But nevertheless, Sweden refuses to participate in a meeting where individuals such as the president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has taken controversial stances on many of the issues, will be present. This is due to worry that it will be a repeat of the last conference on racism – which was chaotic – eight years ago.
Civil servants might still participate, depending on how the discussions unfold.
When asked by TT if she thought it might send a conflicting message to those powers who will come face-to-face with the EU during these negotations, Sabuni answered in the affirmative.
“Yes, and if you read the document right now, it wouldn’t be a problem. But the document is open and as a country, we must send clear signals about what is acceptable. In this case, we are not going to legitimize the non-democratic powers in place at the ministerial level in Durban,” she said.