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Swedish ambassador post in Spain still vacant

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Swedish ambassador post in Spain still vacant
16:35 CET+01:00
Sweden has not had an ambassador in Spain, the country's largest charter holiday destination, for nearly five months, but the Swedish foreign ministry insists it is not uncommon for delayed appointments.

During the same time period, Spain has also not yet named a permanent ambassador in Sweden.

Since September 1st, the Swedish ambassador post in Madrid has been vacant. Chargé d'affairs Jörgen Persson has been taking care of ambassadorial assignments.

"This is definitely not usual. It is the foreign affairs ministry's leadership that is responsible for the selection process and I am not familiar with the details, but there is nothing that we will go public with," Staffan Eklöf, administrative official at the foreign ministry's European unit, told Sydkusten, a Swedish newspaper in Spain.

Over 1 million trips to Spain are taken from Sweden every year. There is also a major presence of Swedes resident in Spain.

When news agency TT asked Swedish foreign ministry recruiter Boel Evander why the position has not yet been filled, she answered, "There is nothing more to say than that it is under appointment."

Further pressed as to whether it is normal for such an appointment to take such a long time, Evander said, "There is nothing that is normal in such a context."

However, she added that it is not uncommon that ambassadorial appointments are delayed.

Meanwhile, the previous Spanish ambassador in Stockholm, Enrique Viguera Rubio, left in the autumn. Temporary replacement Antonio Núñez García-Saúco is in place until the spring.

One explanation behind the protracted vacancies may be the shuffling of diplomats following the consecutive Swedish and Spanish EU presidencies from July to December 2009 and January to June 2010.

In any case, Sweden's foreign ministry insisted that relations between the two countries are the best that they can be despite the lack of permanent ambassador appointments.

Separately, a Church of Sweden report has proposed the closure of two churches in tourist resorts in Spain in an effort to cut costs.

The report has proposed closed two churches in Fuengirola and Puerto de la Cruz.

"Despite the sadness in having to reduce our activities, close down congregations and lay off personnel, I am still optimistic about the future," the overseas director of Church of Sweden, Anders Bergkvist, said in a statement.

A final decision will be made on February 20th.

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