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FINANCIAL CRISIS

Bildt: budget rules ‘must be obeyed’

Foreign Minister Carl Bildt on Monday defended a European single market but said that stricter budget supervision and regulation by Brussels will only work if already existing rules are adhered to.

Bildt: budget rules 'must be obeyed'

“You might say that the crisis has been caused to a very large extent by people not respecting the rules that are already there … if they don’t abide by the previous rules it doesn’t make much sense to impose new rules,” Bildt said during a visit to the Latvian capital Riga.

“But we do see the need to strengthen economic surveillance,” he added.

“We need more Europe, but not more Europes,” Bildt said, speaking out against proposals for a so-called “two-speed Europe” with a core of more-integrated states in the 27-member bloc based on European Union powerhouses Germany and France.

The Swedish foreign minister made the comments following talks with Latvian Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis.

After meeting with his Latvian counterpart foreign minister Edgars Rinkevics, Bildt further developed the theme.

“In some respects we have a twin-speed Europe. We have the growing economies of northern Europe and the indebted economies of southern Europe.

That is the way it is at the moment,” Bildt said.

“We are very much in favour of preserving the institutional architecture that’s necessary for the maintenance of the single market.

“When I said this quip about multiple Europes, that can be seen as a slight warning that we don’t go into institutional set-ups that over time might impair the single market,” he said.

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ISRAEL

Bildt lays out four steps to Gaza peace

Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt stated that there are four steps to achieving peace in Gaza, and that it begins with removing the blockade - which has "played into Hamas' hands".

Bildt lays out four steps to Gaza peace
Photos: TT

Bildt wrote in a debate article in Dagens Nyheter on Thursday that there are four steps necessary in order to achieve enduring peace in Gaza.

"With these four principles as a base, an agreement about Gaza could lead to an immediate stop for missiles, bombs, tunnels and killing, and also act as a bridge to a more thorough agreement about the two-state solution for which we have worked so long." 

First, the blockade must go.

"One of the blockade's most substantial effects has been to destroy Gaza's economy," Bildt asserted. 

He wrote that Gaza's exports are only 2 percent of what they were before the blockade, and that it has made the city dependent on an economy of smuggling – largely controlled by Hamas.

IN PICTURES: 2,000 hit the streets of Stockholm to protest Israel 

Second, Israel's legitimate security concerns must be addressed. "No nation would tolerate being subjected to indiscriminate missile attacks," Bildt said. 

Bildt's third principle for a solution in Gaza was that the city must "clearly become a part of the Palestinian administration". The minister said that this was also a prerequisite for international aid and rebuilding efforts once the crisis is resolved.

In addition, demilitarization of Gaza must be demlitarized and Israel must hold free democratic elections for the Palestinian administration within the next year.

Finally, a long-term solution must include Gaza's right to become "the future State of Palestine's window to the Mediterranean and in major regards its doorway to the world".

Bildt added that connections with the West Bank must be opened and developed in such a way that does not threaten Israeli security. 

"Much of the debate right now focuses on how much of the blame one side or the other should take," Bildt remarked.

"But I believe we can only go forward if we realize that both sides also are right in important regards. And focus our efforts on building a more long-term agreement based on the four principles I have laid out here."

"Then this unnecessary war can lead to necessary peace."

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