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Libyan protests

Has the EU condemnation gone far enough?

Published onsdag 23 februari 2011 kl 12.55
"Sweden can't support this kind of mass violence"
(5:39 min)
Green Party MP Gustav Fridolin. Photo: Maja Suslin / Scanpix.

Is the outside world doing enough to condemn what is reported to be the brutal use of force to try to crush the protestors in Libya? Sweden, as member of the European Union, has to stick to the EU line, which isn't strong enough say some Swedish critics. They want Foreign Minister Carl Bildt to be more forthright in his support for the democratic forces in the region.

"We are very worried about the situation and how it risks developing, it's not about supporting one side or the other, it's about stability and development", commented Carl Bildt on the situation in Libya on Monday night.

Those words led to a wave of criticism in Sweden, with many coming to the conclusion that Sweden's Foreign Minister didn't want to choose between a dictatorship and democracy. Green Party MP Gustav Fridolin was one of those most critical of the comments, and put a written question to Bildt, asking if he really was neutral in the choice between Gaddafi and the demonstrators. Fridolin, who is one of the hot favourites to become new spokesperson for the Greens later this Spring, says his criticism isn't restricted to Bildt, but also to the European Union, as Sweden shares a common foreign policy with the rest of the EU.

"They have had statements after the protests, like in Egypt and Tunisia, where they say 'Well this is good, and we salute the people that have made the process for democracy possible'. But as long as the protests are ongoing and the dictators are still fighting the protesters, they are being kind of neutral... You can't be neutral towards a conflict between people demanding democracy and human rights, and a regime that is using massive force against its own people", Fridolin told Radio Sweden.

He says that Europe, with its recent history of former dictatorships becoming democracies, has a lot to teach North Africa.

"They need to know they have friends in Europe. They need to know that there are people around the world supporting their struggle for democracy and human rights. We know all about the challenges on the path from being a dictatorship to a democracy. That's one of the reasons for us to be supportive and being good friends and good neighbours to the protesters that want their countries in North Africa to walk the same path," says Green Party MP Gustav Fridolin.

However, Foreign Minister Carl Bildt says he thinks his statements, and those of the EU have actually been very sharply worded.

"We have been very clear. We have formulated the strongest statement I've seen for a very long time, when it comes to the brutal use of force by the regime", Sweden's Foreign Minister Carl Bildt told Swedish TV news.

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