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Sweden to close five embassies

TT/Peter Vinthagen Simpson · 22 Dec 2010, 10:55

Published: 22 Dec 2010 10:55 GMT+01:00

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"This painful decision is a consequence of the parliament recently deciding to cut the allocation to the Government Offices by 300 million kronor ($44 million)," Foreign Minister Carl Bildt said in a statement on Wednesday.

The decommissioning of the five embassies will take place during 2011, the statement said.

Sweden's Riksdag voted on December 9th to cut the government's administrative budget in what was the first defeat suffered by the new Alliance minority government.

Carl Bildt described the cuts as "stupid, dangerous and harmful" and the foreign ministry declared that foreign missions in Algiers, Brussels, Buenos Aires, Havana, Hong Kong, Khartoum, Lisbon, Luanda, Pyongyang and Rabat were all in danger of being closed as a result.

Separately, it has been announced that Sweden's ambassador to Poland Dag Hartelius has been appointed as the new head of Sweden's Permanent Representation to the European Union.

Story continues below…

Hartelius began working for the foreign ministry in 1985. He has held prior foreign postings in Moscow and Berlin, among others and since 2008 has served as Sweden's ambassador in Warsaw.

TT/Peter Vinthagen Simpson (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

12:29 December 22, 2010 by johnny1939
I cannot understand closing Buenos Aires. All the others are ok.
12:30 December 22, 2010 by roaringchicken92
Good idea. Global information systems should allow for more sensible decisions like this to be made. Since Sweden does not have a significant corporate or military interests in Algeria, Belgium, Argentina, Cuba, Angola, China, Vietnam, Sudan, Morocco, Portugal, or North Korea, a Charge d'Affaires working from a centralized office is sufficient.
13:07 December 22, 2010 by Nemesis
I am sure the US embassies can take over the work for Sweden.

Afterall Sweden always asks how high to jump when the US says jump to the Swedes.
13:10 December 22, 2010 by mojofat
Sweden, I believe, already has an embassy in Brasilia and several consulates in Brazil...so it's not as if there will be no swedish presence there.

Why have an embassy in North Korea?? What services are they possibly providing there? Tourist visas?
13:46 December 22, 2010 by missla
Buenos Aires is not in Brazil
13:48 December 22, 2010 by svenskdod
Perhaps they could look at combining the "Consulates" (as opposed to the Embassies) that are not in the main centres of the specific countries with other Scandinavian countries. There is a consulate in Calgary, perhaps this could be combined with one from Norway or Denmark (if they have one there)? Just an example. This would allow the Foreign Office to cut costs and manpower less directly.
14:21 December 22, 2010 by pcgomes
When Brazil was first cited on the report?

Let's recall that Buenos Aires is the capital of Argentina.
14:23 December 22, 2010 by Iraniboy
Sad! This is definitely not beneficial for Sweden and citizens of those countries who have contacts/business in Sweden and vice versa! It is hypocritical that the left block and far right block both engaged with each other to do this to the government.
15:01 December 22, 2010 by Crocs
They already closed their Embassy in Dublin, strange considering there are between 20,000 to 100,000 Swedish citizens living and working here, they have merged with the Danish one, maybe they're merging the Nordic countries' embassies in the above said countries too?
15:34 December 22, 2010 by Xor
Does it have to do with Brazil, Argentina and Columbia recognizes Palestine as an independent state? Why would they not close embassies in Republic of Congo, Zaire, Cameroon, Mali, Liberia? What purpose does Swedes have -- ah... weapons. To throw people's attention, they included names such as Lisbon, Brussels and HongKong. World is smarter than any western or eastern political system.
15:43 December 22, 2010 by adigunbabatunde@yahoo.com
"Polish Ambassador" Dag Hartelius has been appointed as the new head of Sweden's Permanent Representation to the European Union.


Swedish ambassador to Poland...or how can a Polish permanently represent Swedish in the EU
17:09 December 22, 2010 by saraswed
what about the one in Nigeria i heard its a milking zone . millions made on visa applications and embassy fees .l guess its funny for me
18:01 December 22, 2010 by Tennin
Yes, having an embassy in North Korea is so important, since so many people from Sweden go there for vacation....... it doesn't make any sense. Close it down.
18:51 December 22, 2010 by mojofat
@missla Hmm...good point! Hard to believe my whole foot can fit in my mouth that way.
18:52 December 22, 2010 by janswed
Here in Vancouver the Swedish Consulate is now sharing space and representation with Finland and are providing exellent service.
19:28 December 22, 2010 by dockmandock
For those who don't get it, the Pyongyang embassy is there for obvious diplomatic reasons, there being only 18 embassies in the country - many of those from either communist or "odd" countries.

It is basically there to represent Western interests.
20:31 December 22, 2010 by Investor612
nemesis, are you living in some alternate universe?

Sweden has been anything but compliant with US policy.
02:18 December 23, 2010 by mkvgtired
I cant see closing embassies in such quickly developing emerging markets as Vietnam and Malaysia (and especially the possibility of closing Hong Kong in the future). But considering Sweden is such a small country by population it only makes sense to merge embassies around the world. It seems it would be beneficial for small European nations of similar cultures to share embassy space considering rent in world capitals is typically extremely expensive, and then rent in major cities where there are consulates that report to these embassies is typically extremely expensive as well.

For instance here is a list of cities where Sweden has a consulate or embassy in just the US:

Anchorage, AK

Atlanta, GA

Boston, MA

Charlotte Amalie, VI

Chicago, IL

Cleveland, OH

Dallas, TX

Denver, CO

Detroit, MI

Fort Lauderdale and Miami, FL

Hamilton, Bermuda

Honolulu, HI

Houston, TX

Jamestown, NY

Kansas City, KS

Las Vegas, Nevada

Milwaukee, WI

Minneapolis, MN

New Orleans, LA

New York, NY

Norfolk, VA

Omaha, NE

Philadelphia, PA

Phoenix, AZ

Raleigh, NC

San Juan, PR

Seattle, WA

St. Louis, MO

Tampa, Florida

Washington, D.C.

This is just one country, albeit a large one. Think of the astronomical costs that go into running offices in all these urban areas in the US. It seems only rational that smaller countries combine offices to control these costs, and I'm surprised it didn't happen sooner. I would even go as far as to say the US and Canada should look into doing this in countries where there are not many US and Canadian citizens. It seems like there is a lot of potential to cut costs in national embassy systems but most nations are not looking in to them.
03:01 December 23, 2010 by dt804a
I am not in the business of offering free advice, especially not to EUrabians, but I'll make an exception this one time. If Sweden is going broke to the point of closing embassies, maybe the government can cut the funding of the so called "Palestinians" and leftist organizations in Israel.
07:00 December 23, 2010 by glamelixir
Hahaha this is hilarious.

I mean, honestly? They are putting more and more soldiers in Afghanistan, for a war that doesn´t concern us at all... but they are closing the embassy in Buenos Aires, a huge country to which Swedes are moving more and more?

Pathetic, and so predictible from this goverment.
09:45 December 23, 2010 by salalah
I think the govt is angry about being voted down for the budged for Foreign Ministry by the S and SD so they will try to punish the public for it. I think we could start by cutting their salaries instead.
09:58 December 23, 2010 by HowSwedeitis
@ Investor612: I agree.

@ mkvgtired: Your list in not correct. Seattle for example has an "honorary Consulate" as part of the Swedish Heritage club, but it has no real governmental abilities. Take for example passport renewal. To do that, one must travel to New York.

17:05 December 23, 2010 by Rutkowski
Don't blame the left on this; this is all the government's doing because they keep expanding the government expenses for no good reason(I mean, they appointed a Riding Lane Minister) and when the left try to contain their idiotic waste they decide to hurt Sweden instead.
19:18 December 23, 2010 by AdamVikingen
Its better to close down a few embassy (Thank god they dident close down the one in Cuba! I might be visiting there) The closing down schools and high the senior age, as they have done all over Europe!
20:43 December 24, 2010 by mkvgtired
@HowSwedeitis, I got the list off Sweden's US embassy website. It is good to know because if you are a Swede traveling in the US and see that list it makes no mention of the lack of services. I guess that is why it is important to call before you travel if you are planning on using embassy services.
14:35 December 26, 2010 by AHA
Does mr Bildt mean that demanding cuts on other parts of the administration like health care, education, art, transport and other social services, not forgetting pensions for the elderly and handicaped, is OK? And besides, people who work there have usually low salaries.
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