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Foreign affairs

Bildt calls for stronger EU voice

Published onsdag 16 februari 2011 kl 10.28
Foreign Minister Carl Bildt. Photo: Leif R. Jansson / SCANPIX

Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt has held his annual speech to parliament presenting the government's foreign policy principles. 

In the speech he explained government policy vis à vis the various conflict areas around the world, including Iraq and Afghanistan, and on the citizens pushing for democracy in North Africa, the Middle East and Belarus.

Bildt called the latest events surrounding the presidential elections in Belarus, when candidates and protestors were taken into custody, a serious setback in the work for freedom, democracy and human rights in Europe.

He also underlined the importance of the European Union in promoting peace and stability around the globe, and especially in its relations with the countries in North Africa. Bildt says the EU must "help these countries to build institutions of democracy and the rule of law to safeguard freedom and open societies". Bildt is himself a keen blogger and Twitter user, and says that Sweden has "discreetly" provided tools to the protesters to get through regimes' internet firewalls. 

The government's policy was criticised by the opposition Social Democrats, however, who say the government was far too passive in its support for the demonstrators in Tunis and Cairo.

Meanwhile, Left Party foreign policy spokesman, Hans Linde, used his time in the chamber to discuss the oppression of women around the world.

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