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Bildt: North Africa faces 'demographic tsunami'

AFP/The Local · 29 Jan 2011, 13:57

Published: 29 Jan 2011 13:57 GMT+01:00

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Amid ongoing popular revolts in Tunisia and Egypt, Bildt said all the countries in the region would have to find ways to satisfy the demands of growing and increasingly frustrated young populations.

"There's a demographic tsunami to the south of the Mediterranean that can over time only be met by sustained democratic and economic reforms," the veteran diplomat told reporters at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

"32 percent of the population of Egypt is under 15 years of age. The median age is 23 years. If you compare it with Tunisia the corresponding figures are 23 percent and 29 years there," he explained.

"These are extremely young societies, demanding concerning the future, and their demands for jobs, for prospects for the future cannot be met by systems that are seen as closed, be that in economic or be that in political terms.

"This is process that lies ahead of all of the countries in the region, one way or another. They're very different but the demographic tsunami is something that is common to all of them," he warned.

Story continues below…

As Bildt and fellow members of the world political and business elite met in this Swiss ski resort, thousands of demonstrators were pouring onto the streets of Cairo to demand President Hosni Mubarak stand down.

AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

14:43 January 29, 2011 by svenne101
blidt missed some countries.

almost all muslim countries and muslim ghettos in europe has the problem.

tunisia, egypt already effected.

bangladesh, pakistan, indonesia, some parts of india,nigeria are on the way to riots and chaos and hunger.
15:10 January 29, 2011 by muscle

I come from one of the countries you have mentioned. And well you are right actually. The problem I see here is while the countries are having problems. The whole world suffers. I hope the people of my country, INCLUDING ME MYSELF, wake up and start thinking about demanding the right government rather than being played around by idiots or blaming the US for the problems.

But then again, don't forget it took centuries for European countries, the Britain as well, to stabilize. Revolution came after constant sufferings. I HOPE this Tunisia episode is an eye opener for nations having bad governments.
16:00 January 29, 2011 by skatty
"… and their demands for jobs, for prospects for the future cannot be met by systems that are seen as closed, be that in economic or be that in political terms."

I don't know is there something wrong with the translation done by "TheLocal", or is Bildt, who believes that he is wise!

First, the governments and their systems in Tunisia and Egypt have been supported by let say "western democratic countries" for years. There has been unemployment there, as many as in Sweden. If unemployed don't go in the street in Sweden, it's because there is a welfare in here, which keep them to sit at home to look for job for a long time, (despite the lack of the jobs, don't forget Sweden has the highest rate of unemployed youths and immigrants in Europe).

Second; even though, there is a democratic system in Sweden, which let people express themselves in the streets, the system isn't completely open to all kinds of expressions like damaging the properties. If Swedes demonstrate in Sweden and damage the properties then Swedish police behave in the same way as it has been done in Tunisia and Egypt. So, there is a level which people can't tolerate injustice anymore and reach to the level to give up their miserable security life. The dissatisfaction and the misery of extreme unemployment and social injustice are mainly concentrated in a group of immigrants from different countries (mostly development countries) here in Sweden.

What I am trying to say to Bildt is that: don't be sure that Sweden will not face "demographic tsunami" because of the "injustice open society" in here; just remember Rinkeby, Rosengård, and …! The fact is that the openness of the society should bring justice for all people in the society.
16:18 January 29, 2011 by mikmak
Skatty, I think Spain wins the European youth unemployment prize: http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/cache/ITY_PUBLIC/3-29012010-AP/EN/3-29012010-AP-EN.PDF
17:03 January 29, 2011 by Great Scott
Why does this stupid little man have to stick his nose in other peoples business. He has more than enough problems in his own back yard.

The mans a complete idiot.
17:21 January 29, 2011 by voiceofreason
It is an open truth, muslims breed like rabbits especially when they are poor and have nothing to do but make love. Look at how Shites have gone from being a minority in Lebanon to being a majority.

If the religion will empower the women, maybe they will do more with their lives than just making babies.
17:39 January 29, 2011 by Iraniboy
At least Bildt is consistent in his position regarding dictatorship and oppression but on the hand US is supporting this ruthless dictator of Egypt as it was doing so for Tunisia!

Biden: Mubarak Should Not Step Down



Lebanon and Palestine are the only fully democratic countries in the Mideast. The fact is that democracy in Mideast goes against the will of Islamophobic Xenophobic people like you. I can understand why you are feeling so bad now!
17:39 January 29, 2011 by Nemesis
I suppose Sweden could advise on how not to sort problems out.

Lets see, they sterilised 63000 Sami (that they admit to) so as to reduce that minority and then put immigrants into ghettos like Rosengård and Södertalje.

Those Swedish ideas did not work, so Sweden can advise countries such as Egpyt and Tunisia, not to follow Sweden's example. Sweden should butt out as it can not sort out its own problems, let alone anyone else's.

The North African countries have real problems and they need real solutions to there problems, not nonsense from Bilt and other idiots in 08.
18:00 January 29, 2011 by krattan
About Bildt sticking his nose in everything.. Interesting to note is that Bildt is a Swedish nobleman with a heritage of many prominent figures in Swedish and Scandinavian history. Bildts great grandfather was PM of Sweden 100 years ago. Another ancestor is King Haakon V who ruled Norway in the 13th century. So the"big dog" attitude of the "middle sized dog" as he was portrayed in the Wikileaks cables is perhaps understandable in the historic context.
18:36 January 29, 2011 by CarlBlack
@ Iraniboy: Lebanon = democracy? Are you kidding us? A country where one party (Hizballah - sheetes) murders prime minister Rafik Hariri (sunnite) in 2005, and it was even not possible to investigate this until a special UN tribunal took over the investigation.

As for Palestine: which country in the region between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River do you mean?
18:45 January 29, 2011 by glamshek

Why doesn't US leaves Muslim States ? Why can't they call upon Mubarak to step down rather than telling him to enforce new reforms in so called favour of Egyptians? When will this bloody game of ideological imposition stop? The people do not want just money, they want US ouster from their regions. If US is sincere, leave them alone. Do not be a party to more bloodshed.

Iranian Parliamentary speaker, Ali Larijani said today ,"The Americans can tolerate seeing bloodshed in Egypt but not a regime fall in Egypt into the hands of the people."
19:37 January 29, 2011 by voiceofreason

Yes, I am Islamophobic because it is a deadly religion.

With regards to my comment about breeding like rabbits, please disprove me if you can.

Bottom line this, Muslim countries cannot help themselves, whether it be under a democracy (Lebanon), Monarchy (Jordan),autocracy (Egypt), theocracy (Iran) or anarchy (Tunisia). They don't take responsibility, they only always engage in blame-game, i.e. CIA, Bush, Christians, Israel bla bla bla etc
20:01 January 29, 2011 by calebian22
Palestine? Where is that? I can't find it on any map.
20:09 January 29, 2011 by Nemesis
@ Iraniboy,

Israel is a democracy, in case you had not noticed.
20:24 January 29, 2011 by skatty
For those, who are interested to know what democracy in a simple way means:

Democracy means simply the bludgeoning of the people by the people for the people.

OSCAR WILDE, the Soul of Man Under Socialism
20:37 January 29, 2011 by Iraniboy

Please study a little more before lying about Lebanon. There are a lot of parties in Lebanon which share power.


I didn't say otherwise. Israel, Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq are full democracy. The only difference with Israel is that its people are Europeans who were forced by Nazis to leave Europe. But other people have always lived there.


A religion cannot be deadly it is people who stick themselves to a religion to kill others. Like Alqaida who abuse Islam to kill innocent people. Or Isreal abusing Jews to kill innocent people or you who may used anti-religion views to ban or finally order to kill religious people. These people look different but they are all the same!


It doesn't matter what/s written on the map. the map is written by someone like you and me. the important thing is that people like you and your parents have the right to live in their house/street/town they have lived for a long time without being forced to leave!
21:33 January 29, 2011 by calebian22
Actually it matters. Palestine doesn't exist. Long live Israel!
22:04 January 29, 2011 by Iraniboy

I explained the situation as it could happen to you and your family. Sadly some of us lack moral values for others and we don't understand depth of an immoral stance unless it happens to us. I hope it happens to you calebian so you fully understand what it means!
22:09 January 29, 2011 by thecraicer
In the near future they will starve in most most arab and North African countries. They are fed by us (White countries, the infidels they loath) and produce next to nothing. Like their choosenite brethren they are traders and not producers. And they can't grow anything in the desert anyway. Not for the populations that they have and that we have made possible by feeding them.
22:26 January 29, 2011 by Hedley
@skatty let me quote you:

"Second; even though, there is a democratic system in Sweden, which let people express themselves in the streets, the system isn't completely open to all kinds of expressions like damaging the properties."

Are you suggesting that it is OK to "damage property"? I am agree that people must protest, but according to you: why my car, my house or anything of my properties should be damaged if I have nothing to do?

And secondly, who cares whether a tsunami happens or not? why is important to talk about the symptoms if the disease is the problem?

As a physician, I know that treating symptoms is OK, but could be nice to treat the actual problem... isn't it?
22:30 January 29, 2011 by Nemesis
@ Iraniboy,

You left out the various pogroms against jews by muslims in the area, since the early Jihads.

The last pogrom against jews in Gaza was in 1928, a bit before the nazi's.
22:33 January 29, 2011 by locaxy

You're right in many regards. But understand that singling out Islam is divisive and counterproductive. For obvious reasons, religious societies breed more than non-religious ones. You could have stopped there instead of railing at Muslims.

I'm "born Muslim" and although I preach science and reason, I have do deal with so much prejudice (for my name and the way I look) that your comments border on the hateful for me. Please be slightly more considerate.
22:54 January 29, 2011 by Hedley

I hate religion!, not Muslims or Christians

Muslim and Christian religions have a lot of political power (I opine that they don't deserve), The Christian one is more subtle but is as big as the Muslim one... Even in USA, where religion propaganda made by the government IS forbidden, Christians have a lot of power, even they may have some priviledge like: tax exemptions or open internal discrimation laws against gays (likewise it also happens in Muslim theocracies) and even against women!
22:57 January 29, 2011 by voiceofreason

Please accept my apologies, I am sorry. I do not hate muslims, my grouse is with Islam. My people (in Africa) have suffered much as a result of Jihad wars for which no muslim is yet to apologize for. Even today, the onslaught continues and there is no end to the killings.

My only aim is to stimulate debate, therefore I retract my earlier statements.
23:01 January 29, 2011 by Iraniboy

Did I talk about Jews? Israel is a political entity not Moses nor Torah!

Oh dear! Now I'm responsible or Palestinian responsible for what some other did in 1928?! If you count it that way all French are responsible for all the miseries in African and All British responsible for wars in the Middle East and Asia.

As a matter of topic at hand, Israel is really worried about current democracy path of Mideast. US has long tried to avoid Mideastern countries to become democratic since weak dictators turn a blind eye on Israel's oppression an inhuman approach to keep their dictatorship. Now the time is over ;) Face it this world goes on the path of freedom and democracy where oppression and inhumanity is not tolerated whatever color or name it may have( Alqaida, Israel, Islamic, Christian, Right wing, secular, Jewish,... whatever!!!)
00:00 January 30, 2011 by Ravioli
I fear for any Muslim country that actually institutes democracy or freedom. They are a people who have proven time and time again that they can handle neither. Look at Palestine. An election is held there and the people choose a terrorist organization to lead them. The same thing is going to happen in Tunisia and eventually Egypt. Look at Sweden! These people have freedom and the result is that they are overrepresented in rape and violent crime. The bottom line is that Muslims in the Middle East NEED a dictator. They've proven that they need to be controlled with force. Because if you give them an centimeter, they will try take a Swedish mile.
00:20 January 30, 2011 by skatty

I criticize the Bildt opinion on demographic tsunami in North Africa. The point is that this guy (Bildt) and many Swedish guys like him look at the problems and conflicts in the world, and give such a comments, sound like that a particular moment in the history has been created for their comments to show up how wise and intelligent they are (according to their own account and nobody else). Swedish political characters are somehow megalomania, and they think the whole world is looking to them because of their specialties in different matters. It can be recognized by at least a couple of articles in a media in a week, about how megalomania Swedes are. They always see the problems some where else, in some poor countries.

As a physician, you know what you should expect from a particular disease. Your remedy may not work, when the disease is rooted deep in the body and, you might start operation. I am saying when the remedy of the peaceful demonstrations doesn't work and get no result (after all people don't demonstrate in the street for fun!), then people might start damaging the cars and houses, when the disease is rooted deep in the body of the society.

The damage starts, when the words have no effect; no matter whether you live in a democratic country or not. Of course to treat the actual problem is good; if and just if it would be solved on time, otherwise there will be fire. At least in some parts, if not in the whole country. Few years ago, it was in Europe in the immigration part of the cities in different countries, you remember.
03:36 January 30, 2011 by Smiling Canuk
Based on current immigration policies it seems more like its actually Sweden that is facing a demographic tsunami.
05:12 January 30, 2011 by saab
@ Iraniboy

So, who are the Palestinians? Are they the leftover Canaanites? Jebusites/ Hittites?

You write: "Israel is that its people are Europeans who were forced by Nazis to leave Europe. But other people have always lived there"

That would be news to the Sephardim from Morocco, Iran, Syria, Egypt and other countries now in Israel. Not very European if you ask me.

Jews were in Palestine for thousands of years or are you denying that the First or Second Temples were ever built, or that the Romans fought the Jews at Masada or that the Josephus was lying or that Israel and Jerusalem are mentioned hundreds of times in ancient Jewish religious texts or.... shall I continue?

I guess the one piece of good news here is that if the Jews really weren't in Israel before 1948, we could at least now state definitively that the Jews didn't kill Christ.

You cheapen your argument when you show a complete lack of knowledge about history.

Fix the mess in your country first, then you can maybe address the rest of the world and even call yourself Irani-man.

The 'boy' part fits for now.
06:09 January 30, 2011 by Nomark
Bildt is quite right. The demographic issue (*lots* of young people and no jobs/prospects) has long been flagged as a potential source of instability in these countries. Its certainly not the only factor - nothing in life is simple. However, it is an important contribution to the present unrest.

We have our own demographic issue to contend with in the near future (lots of old people and not enough young people to support them). We would be wise to learn from what is happening in Egypt - demographics is not to be ignored.
06:57 January 30, 2011 by JoeSwede
The arab nations and North African nations need population control. Birth control and economic development. Democracy can come later...when they're able to handle it. I guess I hope they can now but I am not sure.
08:57 January 30, 2011 by calebian22

So do these high moral values that you seem to attribute to the Palestinians and yourself include bombing civilians in a que, a pizza parlor, or a train station? If these are examples of a high brow moral code, I will stick with my own.
18:13 January 30, 2011 by jimthat
this is anything but new .in fact has worsened in the last 100 years .

the thing is just the culture and mentality .while the africans and middle east people see the fact of having many chidren as a blessing and a sign of better life and even wealth the european see it as a sign of poverty , exxesive responsability and a big burden .all this orquestrated by the feminist chorus of self determination about the child fate and the appeal for self pleasure .

so we get what we deserve .the path to extintion. each time less childs less swedes . and more and more immigrants. the sweden of our ancestors will be a piece of museum ridiculised by the new citizens . its sad ,but is coming ever faster

i think we asked for it
19:18 January 30, 2011 by glamshek
Go Mubarak Go.

Go Obama Go.

Go Isarel as a whole Go.

Get off the face of Earth
19:57 January 30, 2011 by Hedley


Damaging other´s property IS NOT A RIGHT: It means that is ok to break windows and breaking windows, because the government or your boss is not able to support your demands?

Do you think is OK that police just wait meanwhile a mob menaces your life or enter in your office and destroy the furniture?

I am agree what Bilt´s comment are not ok, but I am not able to support either "destroying property" as a "method" of protest and even worse saying that police must "cross arm" and see how a mob threaten the lives of innocent people and ruin their goods!
21:50 January 30, 2011 by Ravioli

There are a lot more people in the world who would like to see you and your people drop off of the face of the Earth than the ones that you mentioned. Just a little fyi.
01:59 January 31, 2011 by saab

Glamshek must be thinking:

Welcome Ayatollahs Welcome

Welcome al Qaeda Welcome

Welcome Stone Age Welcome.

Or something like that....
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