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Sweden defends dictator invites

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13:35 CEST+02:00
The Swedish foreign ministry has defended the invitation of representatives for several of the world's most severe dictatorships to Saturday's royal wedding, arguing that it is accepted to protocol to invite the entire diplomatic core to ceremonial state occasions.

Representatives from North Korea, Sudan and Eritrea are among those on the guest list for the wedding ceremony in Stockholm Cathedral on Saturday afternoon. The latter, has in particular been the source of considerable debate in Sweden in recent years over the imprisonment without trial of Swedish journalist Dawit Isaak.

The Royal Court confirmed the guest list with the foreign ministry who passed it without any reservations, according to information head Cecilia Julin.

"This is the praxis we apply for events such as these, that we we invite the whole diplomatic corps," she said.

In response to a question regarding the criticism of the guest list, Julin replied:

"I think that one has to conclude that certain ceremonial state events, then it is natural to invite the countries with whom we have diplomatic relations with. This does not means that we are overly enamoured with parts of their democracy or policies, or respect for human rights."

"When we we have a ceremonial opening of parliament, for example, then we invite them all, and this is a way to show the countries stationed here how are democratic traditions work."

Julin argued that the wedding ceremony is a state ceremony and should not be regarded as imply a festive occasion.

"They are invited to attend the marriage ceremony in the cathedral where the Swedish heir to the throne is to be married - the state ceremonial part of the arrangements. They are not invited to the reception," Julin said.

Julin said that the idea of limiting the invites to representatives from Scandinavian and EU nations, had not been entertained.

"Where should the line be drawn?" she asked.

When asked whether the foreign ministry was applying "typical diplomatic tactics" by citing "protocol and etiquette over common sense and humanity", Julin replied:

"I have respect for those who consider this wrong, but I am perhaps a little surprised that it has gained so much attention now. I have not heard the same protests when the parliament opens each year."

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