'Obama cares more about Norway than Reinfeldt'

Karen Holst
Karen Holst - [email protected]
'Obama cares more about Norway than Reinfeldt'

Swedish prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt tried on Friday to respond to criticism that he has been missing-in-action following last week's terror attacks in Norway.


For much of the last week, Reinfeldt has been under fire for his lack of appropriate response in the wake of the bloodiest attack in Scandinavia since WWII.

A letter addressed to Reinfeldt said it was "sad" that US President Barack Obama "seems to care more about last week’s deadly tragedy in Norway," reported newspaper Dagens Nyheter (DN).

While Reinfeldt issued a statement the evening of the attacks and held a press conference the following day, he has kept a low profile ever since.

The letter comes after Reinfeldt failed to attend the memorial service at the Church of Norway in Stockholm last Sunday and has been mum, critics even say invisible, since last week's attacks, sparking an onslaught of disapproving commentary.

More than 50 letters were sent to the Prime Minister's office this week regarding Norway’s tragedy, with most slamming Reinfeldt's response, DN reported.

Comments included how Reinfeldt’s reaction to the tragedy “totally crushed” a supporter’s impression of him to how extremely "disappointed" one became in the way he handled the situation.

On the one week anniversary of the terrorist attacks, Reinfeldt published commentary in the Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) newspaper where he described the "senseless" explosion in Oslo and shootings in Utøya a “crime against us all.”

Echoing Norwegian leadership, he stated the “answer to the threat to our freedom and democracy must be more freedom and democracy.”

While recalling December’s suicide bomb in Stockholm, he described Sweden and its Nordic neighbours as some of the “most open and free countries.”

“We should also be aware that our open society makes us vulnerable. Anyone who wants to can take advantage of the open society to spread hatred and death,” he wrote, adding that there will never be a sufficient solution.

Reinfeldt also took care to emphasise his early contact with Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg in the wake of the drama to express Sweden’s deep sympathy and offer help.

In comparison, President Obama expressed his sympathies for the Norwegian people on live-TV just hours after the attack and also made a personal visit to the Norwegian embassy in Washington DC in the thick of his country’s dire finance crisis.

Meanwhile, Denmark’s Prime Minister spoke at the memorial service held in Copenhagen this week.

Per Schlingmann, State Secretary of Communications, was surprised by the stinging criticism of Reinfeldt, who he said acted swiftly and even offered help, such as with ambulances that might have been needed.

“The Prime Minister acted quickly both during the night it happened, but even with a press conference the day after. He offered to go to the memorial ceremony in Oslo, but they did not have international guests,” he told DN.

According to Schlingmann, the requests for a more visible presence from Reinfeldt simply bear witness to the strong confidence the Swedish people have in him as Prime Minister.


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