British and Swedish Defence Ministers Meet
Sweden's defence minister Sten Tolgfors is travelling to London Wednesday, to meet with his British counterpart Bob Ainsworth. Main topics of that meeting will be the Swedish priorities during the current EU presidency, increasing usability, developing capability and combining civilian and military crisis management. Defence Minister Sten Tolgfors has set an agenda that is not seen as too controversial by his British hosts, but it could be challenging for his own country.
With Sweden taking part in the so called EU battle groups, Tolgfors wants to get these underused European forces into action. In a meeting with his EU colleagues earlier this year, Tolgfors pointed out that the battle groups were a waste of money and resources if not used. During Wednesday's informal meetings with top representatives of the British armed forces - including his counterpart Bob Ainsworth - the Swedish minister is expected to bring up the issue once again.
Tolgfors also intends to push the idea of deeper cooperation between military and civilian instances when European military forces are deployed around the world. Be it in the Sudanese Darfur region, in Afghanistan or on the Balkans - peace keeping missions should not merely be about winning wars, Tolgfors believes. These missions should take into account that post-war societies need sustainable civilian aid to stabilize the situation.
During his visit to London, the Swedish minister is also meeting with representatives of the Northwood HQ, responsible for "Operation Atalanta" - trying to prevent piracy in the waters off the Horn of Africa. Tolgfors has supported the Swedish participation in that mission from the start, and was one of the first Swedish politicians to argue for a prolongation of the mandate - even against slightly critical voices from his own coalition partners in the Swedish government.