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Uppdrag: utrikesminister

September 29, 2014

Anförande vid Utrikespolitiska institutet, Stockholm, Sverige

Det var i början av december 2006 som jag stod här och talade om en ny politik för en ny...

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Utvalda anföranden

Anförande vid China Foreign Affairs University

March 2, 2009

Anförande i Beijing

 

Let me just make some remarks before trying to answer the different questions that you might have.

 

Politicians sometimes have a tendency to deliver too long speeches - and to be somewhat reluctant to answer questions.

 

I have to confess to having been in politics for a fairly long time.

 

I was member of the parliament of my country for nearly a quarter of a century. I served as the leader of my political party for 13 years - sometimes in opposition, sometimes in government - including as Prime Minister.

 

And I had the honour of serving in different international functions for both the United Nations and the European Union dealing essentially with issues of conflict resolution and state building after devastating conflicts.

 

But I have learnt that there is always more you can learn - in particular by listening to the views of others, trying to understand those that might think somewhat differently and seeking answers to the different questions you are confronted with.

 

I will try to be true to that today as well - but let me start with some remarks.

 

My official visit to Beijing today is my first visit as Foreign Minister of Sweden - but certainly not my first visit to your country.

 

I have been here throughout the last few decades and been able to see the enormous transformation of your society. I have seen the triumphs and been aware of the tragedies.

 

It is obvious to each and everyone that the China of today is a more open and better society for each and everyone than the China of a decade or two - not to speak about three or four! - ago.

 

The daring new policy approach that Deng Xiaoping decided upon three decades ago has transformed your country by opening it up to the world in a way that I think few at the time thought possible.

 

The decades prior to that had in many ways been tragic for China and its place in the world. The price in human suffering for those decades had been appalling.

 

But step-by-step the new policy transformed your society, opened you up to the world and started to give your country - with its magnificent history and culture - the place in the world it deserves.

 

If you look back on the part of the world I'm coming from - Sweden, Europe - the changes during these decades have been nearly as momentous as they have been here.

 

This year it will be 20 years since we saw the fall of that wall in Berlin that divided a city, a country and a continent - and since then the history of Europe was set on a new trajectory.

 

A decision was taken to transform the less ambitious and more restricted European Communities to a new European Union, aiming both at a common currency and a common foreign and security policy, and to open up this new Union to all the new democracies that we saw emerging with fall of the Soviet empire.

 

And my country decided to abandon its of policy of staying outside of any alliances and enter the European Union as a full-fledged member, which we duly did in 1995.

 

We are still not member of a military alliance, but we are fully aware that the European Union is a political alliance with far-reaching ambitions also in the important areas of peace and security.

 

The years since then have transformed the European Union nearly beyond recognition.

 

Today, we are 27 member states with nearly half a billion citizens. Our internal market is the largest integrated economy of the world. We are the by far largest trading entity on our globe, and we are the largest market for more than 130 nations around the world. We provide more than 60 % of all the official development aid (ODA). A there is in the world today.

 

But we are also becoming more and more of a strong force on the different issues of the global agenda - indeed, it is the need for a deeper dialogue on a number of these between China and the European Union that has brought me to Beijing today.

 

Relations between China and Sweden have traditionally been good. Next year we will celebrate 60 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations.

 

We had an excellent state visit by President Hu Jintao to Sweden two years ago, last year my Prime Minister was here in China twice and this year will see further high-level contacts. Half of our government has paid a visit for talks with their respective Chinese counterparts.

 

This year Sweden will assume the Presidency of the European Union during the second half of the year - following the Czech Presidency of today.

 

And it is very much with this perspective that I am here today.

 

There is little doubt that we need a deeper strategic dialogue between China and the European Union. It has undoubtedly improved considerably during the last few years, but it is my firm view that we should try to develop further.

 

There are urgent issues on the table where we should have a clear common interest - and discuss common ways forward.

 

Let me just mention three of them.

 

The first one is obviously the efforts to stabilize the global economic situation and secure a more sustainable globalisation for the years ahead.

 

The global economic outlook at the moment is grim - there is no other way to describe it.

 

The last quarter of last year saw a virtual free fall in global trade and production. We see recession in the one country after the other - notably in Europe and America. And we see - which we have not experienced in living memory - trade volumes shrinking.

 

We will see weak economies and fragile states coming under severe strain - and I fear that we might even see some of them even coming close to breaking under that strain.

 

The worst that could happen in this most challenging situation is for politicians in different countries to give in to populist pressure and resort to protectionist policies.

 

If there is one certain recipe for disaster - this is it!

 

The message that was delivered by the informal meeting of the heads of state and government of the European Union yesterday was clear - the protectionist temptation must and will be resisted.

 

And here China and the European Union have obvious parallel interests. We are both open trading economies, and we both know that new barriers can only take us to old problems.

 

We should - in all international fora in the weeks and months to come - form a front against the protectionist temptations that we are now starting to see influencing policy.

 

But we must also be ready to strengthen our common system of global financial and economic governance.

 

I don't think it's a question of inventing a new economic system - it's a question of improving the mechanisms that will safeguard and further develop a system that after all has delivered spectacularly well during the past century or so.

 

As one of the priorities - it will be on the agenda of the G20 Summit in London - we must replenish the resources of the International Monetary Fund. It remains one of our key instruments for helping countries cope with what sometimes amounts to economic and political emergencies.

 

And we Europeans should recognize that a strengthening of the international financial institutions in different ways must go hand in hand with making this part of the system of global governance more representative of the world as it is - not of the world as it was.

 

This is the first issue - our common commitment to an open global economy and our common effort to create a more sustainable globalisation for the years ahead. That the issue is acute today hardly needs to be stressed.

 

The second issue is intimately linked to the first - I am thinking of the urgency of addressing the challenge of climate  change.

 

The European Union has committed itself to reducing the emissions of greenhouse gases by 20 % by 2020 compared to 1990 - and said that we are prepared to reduce by up to 30 % if there is a credible global agreement reached in Copenhagen later this year.

 

These are demanding targets. They will not be meet by themselves. And for all the difficulties there will be in our countries, we are acutely aware of the fact that the challenge for others - China among them - is even greater.

 

Still we expect the developing countries to make reductions by 15 to 30 % by 2020 - respecting the principle of common but  differentiated responsibilities  and  respective capabilities.

 

We are in the beginning of a year where intense efforts to stabilize the global economy must be go hand in with intense diplomacy to pave the way for a new climate agreement in Copenhagen in December - and I do believe that on both of these issues the dialogue between China and the European Union will be of critical importance.

 

The third urgent issue that we have on the global agenda is the issue of proliferation of nuclear weapons.

 

There are already too many nuclear weapons and too many nuclear weapon states in the world today, Although I am hopeful that we will see a reduction in the overall arsenals in the years to come - after all 95 % of them are held by Russia and the United States - I am far more concerned with the risk that we will see further states acquiring these weapons.

 

New nuclear weapon states in East Asia or the Middle East would be profoundly destabilizing - and would significantly increase the risk that we will actually see nuclear weapons used and a nuclear war breaking out some time in the future.

 

Of immediate concern at the moment is the situation of North Korea. There are clear indications that they have embarked on a phase of new confrontation with the international community.

 

The announcement that they intend to launch a major missile - be that a space launch or be that a ballistic missile test - hints at a coming confrontation, since such a launch might be seen as a violation of the provisions of UN Security Council resolution 1718.

 

We all have a profound interest in both non-proliferation and in the stability of the Korean peninsula, and clear messages from the leading international actors are of importance in a situation like this. It should be clear that we are ready to consult and coordinate in order to handle any contingencies so as to preserve the wider regional  stability.

 

Iran is only marginally less of an acute challenge than North Korea. There remain important question marks concerning its different nuclear activities of the past, and it is certainly difficult to fully reconcile its existing

 

program of enrichment with its declared intention not to acquire nuclear weapons.

 

These and other issues can only be settled in direct talks with Iran. We have reason to note with satisfaction that at some point such talks are likely to be held between the United States and Iran, but it is also important that there are clear messages from key actors like China - permanent member of the UNSC - and the European Union. We are open to a much broader cooperation with an Iran that is ready to fully respect the decisions of the UN Security Council.

 

Progress in strategic arms limitation talks between the United States and Russia, ratification of the Complete Test Ban Treaty and progress on the North Korean and Iranian issues would pave the way for the Review Conference of the Non-Proliferation Treaty next year.

 

It has to succeed - failure in these efforts could have catastrophic consequences for global stability in the world of the future.

 

These are three of the acute issues that are on the agenda of the important strategic relationship between China and the European Union.

 

But our relationship is broader than just the acute issues of the day.

 

We have a dialogue on issues of human rights that we attach considerable importance to. It is an open secret that our respective perspectives on these issues often diverge.

 

Just to take one very concrete issue in this field - we are firmly opposed to the use of the death sentence, and although we acknowledge the improvements in procedures that have been decided in China we are still deeply concerned with the widespread use of the death sentence in your country.

 

These and other issues of human rights are issues that we address in our dialogues with a large number of states around the world. Sometimes it is easy - sometimes somewhat less so.

 

And we should also be ready to acknowledge the shortcomings that might be there in our own society.

 

Indeed, the European Court of Human Rights has found Sweden wanting in a number of cases, forcing us to change our laws and practices in order to be fully in compliance with the European and international obligations that we have signed up to.

 

As our societies and economies evolve, so will our relationship. Today the student exchange programs already cover 200 000 students - an enormous stimulus for future cooperation.

 

And we know that the future will be different from today.

 

My hope is that the enlargement of the European Union will continue in parallel with the further deepening of our integration. There are app 100 million citizens of the countries of South-eastern Europe - notably Turkey - eager to join our Union.

 

Beyond that we are developing the Union of the Mediterranean and are preparing to launch our Eastern Partnership - extending the reach of our ambitious process of integration, of the rule of the law and of open and democratic governance to larger and larger areas.

 

And the events of these days have certainly demonstrated the need to go further when it comes to the financial and economic governance of our Union.

 

As for China - no one believes that your spectacular development has come to its final resting point. Visiting the Art 798 area here in Beijing yesterday I was further impressed by the creativity and dynamism that is there in your society.

 

The future course of the building of your harmonious society is for you to decide, but I am convinced that it will entail a continuation of your evolution during the last few decades of a society increasingly open to the world - and increasingly open also to itself.

 

I can think of no better basis for a stronger and stronger relationship between Europe and China - to the benefit of the world as a whole.

 

Thank you.

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