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FOREIGN POLICY DEBATE

CARL BILDT

Sweden a ‘humanitarian super power’: Bildt

Sweden's foreign policy is being debated in the Riksdag on Wednesday. Follow The Local's live blog for the latest updates and reactions.

Sweden a 'humanitarian super power': Bildt

David Landes, 11.40am

While the debate continues, we’re going to wrap up the live blog. Stay tuned to the site for some additional reporting on what was said in the Riksdag today.

David Landes, 10.56am

It seems the current horsemeat scandal made its way into the foreign policy debate when Liberal Party (Folkpartiet) foreign policy spokesman Fredrik Malm said the foreign policy of the red-green opposition parties was like “frozen lasagne”.

“Nice on the outside, but you never know what’s inside.”

Malm also said Swedes need to understand that issue of refugees constitute a permanent, rather than temporary, issue.

He also followed party leader Jan Björklund’s comments earlier in the week calling for an increase in defence spending, and also called for Sweden to join Nato, a long-standing Liberal party wish.

David Landes, 10.29am

Bildt said he’s in favour of a strong national defence that also participates in international peace operations. Sweden’s defenc policy has been a hot topic of debate in recent weeks following comments by the country’s top military commander that Sweden could only defend itself for a week if attacked.

Bildt also too a jab at the Sweden Democrats, saying they “want to hold the world out of Sweden and Sweden out of the world”.

David Landes, 10.24am

Bildt back at the podium responding to other speakers. He took issue with Ahlin’s claims that the Sweden isn’t fully engaged at the UN.

He called the United Nations an important institution for Swedish foreign policy and that, if anything, Sweden has been critical of the UN Security Council.

“Sweden’s values are more important than sitting in an intentional body,” said Bildt, in commenting on Sweden’s failure to get voted into the UN Human Rights Council last year.

David Landes, 10.20am

The Left Party’s Hans Linde criticized the government’s foreign policy for helping the powerful at the expense of the powerless.

He also lamented Swedish companies’ role in “plundering” the world’s poor, saying the government invests in firms that contribute to poverty.

Linde also questioned why Sweden would devote 15 billion kronor in taxpayer money to conduct trade with Iran before calling for a “new economic world order”.

David Landes, 10.15am

Julia Kronlid of the Sweden Democrats accused Sweden of having into an “EU-friendly slumber” and argued that Swedes should also be awarded the chance to express their views on EU membership in the way Britons will be able to do following Prime Minister David Cameron’s promise of a referendum.

She also said it was regrettable that the government wanted to give recognize a Palestinian state.

David Landes, 10.07am

Incidentally, the Green Party on Wednesday reported Foreign Aid Minister Gunilla Carlsson to the Riksdag’s Constitutional Committee for the way in which Swedish foreign aid funds are managed.

They cite a 2010 report showing that the foreign ministry lacks procedures for managing its own aid projects, and want the committee to see if the ministry has acted in accordance with current regulations.

David Landes, 9.59am

Next up is Bodil Ceballos of the Green Party. Unsurprisingly, she argues that Sweden needs to be a leader in climate and environment issues.

She also brought up Sweden’s weapons exports, arguing that states that choose to buy weapons instead of helping their populations shouldn’t be a priority.

David Landes, 9.50am

“Sweden must recognize a Palestinian state” the Social Democrats demand, according to Ahlin.

David Landes, 9.45am

Ahlin thinks that the United Nations doesn’t receive enough attention in the government’s foreign policy. He thinks Sweden’s UN engagement is “poor”.

David Landes, 9.41am

Urban Ahlin says he welcomes the fact that Swedish foreign policy begins at home an in the Nordic region.

David Landes, 9.37am

So, Bild’t speech is over. You can read it in its entirety (in Swedish) by

following this link.

Now Social Democrat foreign policy spokesman Urban Ahlin has the floor.

Live tweets of Carl Bildt’s speech

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David Landes, 9.07am

The Local’s Ann Törnkvist is live tweeting Bildt’s speech. Follow Ann on Twitter here.

David Landes, 8.55am

Things are just about to get underway in the Riksdag, with Foreign Minister kicking things off with his annual declaration of Swedish foreign policy.

You can watch it live (in Swedish) by clicking here.

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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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