Today in Sweden: A roundup of the latest news on Thursday

Asylum return centres, interest rate hike, Biden's Switzerland gaffe: find out what's going on in Sweden with The Local's roundup.

"Switzerland, my goodness – I’m getting really anxious here about expanding Nato." US President Joe Biden gives a press conference in Madrid. Photo: Brendan Smialowski / AFP

Sweden’s government proposes asylum return centres near airports

Sweden’s government has launched an inquiry into how to set up so-called “return centres” for rejected asylum seekers, which would increase the share who are promptly returned to their home countries.

The new return centres would be built close to airports in Sweden, enabling those ordered to return to their home countries to be rapidly and efficiently put on planes. 

“Establishing a return centres will make it possible to send a clear signal that the asylum process has been completed and that from that point on return will be the main focus,” Sweden’s immigration minister Anders Ygeman said at a press conference on Thursday. 

Swedish Vocab: ett avslag – a rejection

Sweden’s central bank brings in biggest rate hike in 22 years

Sweden’s Riksbank has raised interest rates by 50 points to 0.75 percent, in its biggest rate hike in 22 years.

The bank said it was now predicting that its key interest rate would rise to 1.36 percent in the last three months of 2022, up from the 0.81 percent it predicted at the end of April. 

Between the start of April and the end of June next year, it will rise to 1.9 percent (up for 1.18 predicted in April), and in the last six months of 2025, the rate will hit 2.06 percent, it said.

Swedish Vocab: en räntehöjning – an interest rate rise

Erdogan: Sweden has promised to extradite 73 people. 

Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, claimed at a press conference at the end of the Nato meeting in Madrid that Sweden had promised to extradite 73 people Turkey suspects of being terrorists to Turkey. 

“We want to strongly emphasise the message that we expect straightforward solidarity from our allies, not just words but also actions,” he said. 

Turkey’s justice minister, Bekir Bozdag, told Turkey’s NTV broadcaster on Wednesday that Sweden had promised to extradite 21 people to Turkey. 

Swedish vocab: att utlämna – to extradite 

Sweden insists on judicial independence in Turkey extradition decisions

Sweden insisted on Thursday that any decisions regarding the possible extradition of alleged Kurdish militants and coup plot suspects to Turkey would be made by “independent courts”.

“In Sweden, Swedish law is applied by independent courts. Swedish citizens are not extradited. Non-Swedish citizens can be extradited at the request of other countries, but only if it is compatible with Swedish law and the European Convention,” Justice Minister Morgan Johansson said in a written statement to AFP.

On Wednesday, Turkey had said it would seek the extradition of alleged Kurdish militants and coup plot suspects from Sweden and Finland under a deal to secure Ankara’s support for the Nordic countries’ NATO membership bids.

Swedish Vocab: oberoende domstolar – independent courts 

US President Biden mixes up Sweden and Switzerland at Nato summit

Joe Biden on Thursday said that Switzerland would be joining Nato, mixing the Alpine country up with Sweden in a press conference at the transatlantic alliance’s summit in Madrid on Thursday. The US president immediately corrected himself, making a joke of his gaffe. 

“We’ve invited two new members to join Nato. It was a historic act,” he told reporters, before relating an earlier phone call with the president of Finland.

He said: “We got on the telephone, he suggested we call the leader of, Switzerland – Switzerland, my goodness – I’m getting really anxious here about expanding Nato, of Sweden.”

Swedish vocab: en felsägning – a slip of the tongue

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Today in Sweden: A roundup of the latest news on Monday

Party leaders' summer speeches, SAS loan, and Koran burnings lose impact: find out what's going on in Sweden with The Local's roundup

Today in Sweden: A roundup of the latest news on Monday

Social Democrats launch package of laws against gang crime

Sweden’s Prime Minister, Magdalena Andersson, on Sunday proposed a raft of new proposals to combat gang crime, including a new crime “recruiting minors to gang crime”, and tougher punishments for those who commit gang-related crimes. 

“We do not tolerate twelve-year-olds working as watchmen for drug deals,” Andersson said in her speech in Gothenburg, while adding that, unlike the right-wing parties, the Social Democrats also wanted to address the causes of crime. 

“We need to go directly and address the breeding ground for new recruitment, which is to say ‘segregation’,” she said. “First, you’re driven to an area where not many people speak Swedish or have a job to go to, then your chances of entering broader society much too small. Then the gang criminals get their claws into your children and try to drag them into drug dealing.” 

Swedish vocab: en grogrund – a breeding ground 

Moderate leader promise 31.5 billion in tax breaks for ‘low and middle income’ people

Ulf Kristersson, leader of Sweden’s opposition Moderate Party, on Sunday promised to bring in 31.5bn kronor in tax cuts for low and middle income people, with a more generous tax break for those in work, giving an extra 500 kronor more a month to the average worker, a new job bonus for those who leave long-term unemployment worth ten percent of their monthly salary, and a new tax cut for pensioners worth a further 500 kronor. 

“We must move from welfare payments to jobs,” Kristersson said. “More people need to work more.” 

Sweden’s finance minister Mikael Damberg warned that the proposals, if enacted, risked driving up inflation and as a result interest rates. 

Swedish vocab: en skattesänkning – a tax cut 

Sweden Democrats call for prison service to be renamed ‘punishment agency’ 

The populist Sweden Democrats on Saturday called for the Swedish Prisons and Probations Agency to be given a name that reflects its chief purpose: to administer punishments. 

Rather than being called Kriminalvården, which literally means “criminal care”, or “criminal ward”, the agency should be called Straffverket, the punishment agency, the party’s leader Jimmie Åkesson said at his summer speech on Saturday. 

“The main focus should be to punish criminals,” Åkesson told TT after the speech. “It should be to lock in, punish, and keep criminals away from honourable, law-abiding people.”

“The prison agency’s main focus today is mainly just care, and we think that can’t be the main focus of how society handles serious criminals, and dangerous criminals, and that should be reflected in the agency’s name.” 

Swedish vocab: hederlig – honourable 

Koran burnings by Danish far-Right extremist ‘no longer causing riots’

Swedish police said there have been no disturbances associated with the Koran burning by Danish far-Right extremist Rasmus Paludan and his party Stram Kurs (“Hard Line”) this week around Stockholm, unlike the riots seen over Easter.

Paludan and his party have been holding demonstrations this week involving burning the Koran, in what Paludan describes as an “election tour” ahead of standing in Sweden’s parliamentary election in September.

However Swedish newswire TT has reported that few people have seemed to care about the shock tactics used and police have confirmed that no major disturbances have occurred as a result of the demonstrations.

This is in stark contrast to the demonstrations over Easter, which resulted in riots involving vandalism and violence aimed primarily at police. A total of 26 police officers were injured and at least 40 people were arrested.

Swedish vocab: kravaller – riots

Struggling Scandinavian carrier SAS gets $700m loan

Ailing Scandinavian airline SAS, which filed for bankruptcy protection in the United States in early July, said Sunday it had secured a 700-million-dollar loan.

The move follows a crippling 15-day pilot strike, also in July, that cost the carrier between $9 and $12 million a day.

The pilots were protesting against salary cuts demanded by management as part of a restructuring plan aimed at ensuring the survival of the company.

SAS said it has entered “into a debtor-in-possession (DIP) financing credit agreement for $700 million with funds managed by Apollo Global Management”.

SAS had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the United States and said the “DIP financing, along with cash generated from the company’s ongoing operations, enables SAS to continue meeting its obligations throughout the chapter 11 process”.

“With this financing, we will have a strong financial position to continue supporting our ongoing operations throughout our voluntary restructuring process in the US,” SAS board chairman Carsten Dilling said.

Swedish vocab: ett låneavtal – a loan agreement