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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 tyska förbundsdagen

June 29, 2009

Anförande i Berlin, Tyskland

 

To start with the obvious: the state of the world is more demanding, more difficult and in key areas also more dangerous than just a few years ago.

 

We are in the midst of a global economic crisis of a nature and magnitude we have not experienced in living memory.

 

The latest World Bank estimate predicts a decline in the global economy by nearly 3 percent and a contraction of trade volumes by approximately 10 percent this year.

 

And as it unfolds over the months ahead we will see its different political effects increasingly hitting the weak economies and fragile states across the globe.

 

It is unfortunately a safe prediction that we are likely to see further countries in need of financial emergency treatment.

 

This will affect us directly as well as indirectly. We must mobilize financial resources and political attention in order to help and assist when necessary. And we might be faced with the consequences of economic and political disorder if we fail in these efforts.

 

At the same time, we are facing a challenge to our global climate and future living environment of a once-in-a- millennium order.

 

And we know that action cannot be delayed forever - the clock is ticking and we have a responsibility to act.

 

To this should be added that we see tensions rising in the entire area from Palestine to the Punjab - and that we can not fail to note the different signs of increasing geopolitical manoeuvring in the vast areas to the East of our Union.

 

Two decades after the breaking down of the Iron Curtain - that momentous change in modern history - the European Union has developed into a bulwark of stability, democracy and prosperity encompassing nearly half a billion people and constituting the largest integrated economy in the world today.

 

That's no insignificant achievement - as a matter of fact, it stands without parallel in our modern world.

 

As a consequence, our Europe is today far more secure, and our voice far more respected in the councils of the world.

 

But it goes without saying that the turbulence of the world today is presenting us with new challenges - in safeguarding our own stability and prosperity here in Europe, but also in the ongoing task of building a Union that can make increasingly significant contributions to meeting the wider challenges of our region, our world and our age.

 

It is at this juncture in time that my country - Sweden - stands ready to assume the Presidency of our Union for some months.

 

Those months will pass quickly - but during them some key challenges will have to be handled.

 

And let me make some remarks on some of them - on the economic and climate challenges, on our widening regional responsibilities, and on the tasks we face in the wider world.

 

This is a time of transition for the European Union.

 

After the elections to the European Parliament we are now initiating the process of appointing a new European Commission.

 

Based on the mandate from the European Council, consultations with the European Parliament on the President of the European Commission have now started, and we hope that the Parliament will be ready to vote on the issue on July 15th.

 

It will take towards the end of the year to get the new Commission fully in place, but it is also in view of this that we believe it should be in the interest of everyone to get clarity on the question of the President of the Commission.

 

These are - as we all know - times when we risk having to pay a price for uncertainty.

 

Key thereafter is of course to get the remaining countries to ratify the Lisbon Treaty - with the referendum in Ireland, expected in early October, as the most important event in the process.

 

If this occurs - and I sincerely hope it will - we will immediately begin to set up the new institutions and initiate the new procedures that will - above everything else - make for a more effective common foreign and security policy for our Union.

 

Strong and effective institutions are important. That's one of the key lessons of the decades of European integration.

 

But clear and consistent policies are certainly not less important. That's another lesson that should be obvious.

 

Institutions without policies are like hardware without software - little more than scrap metal.

And while an update of our hardware is certainly called for, it is ultimately the software of policies that is decisive.

 

And it is the policy issues that will be absolutely key as we struggle with the immediate economic crisis and gradually start to focus on the place of Europe in the post-crisis world.

 

A decade has soon passed since our Union - having mastered at least some of the major political challenges of the 1990's - decided to put the economic issues at the centre of its efforts.

 

Seeing the dynamism of the American economy at the time, we launched the Lisbon Agenda that aimed at making us "the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world" by 2010 - next year.

 

Today it is abundantly clear that we will not reach that objective.

 

While there were obvious achievements - the rise of female participation in our economies among the most significant - there were also notable shortcomings that should have been avoided.

 

Some years ago we pledged to spend 3 percent of our GDP on research and development.

 

In this age of breathtaking scientific and technological change, staying at the forefront of the ongoing - sometimes even accelerating - knowledge revolution is key to our long-term future.

 

We need only to think about the need to move forward with new energy technologies.

 

But today it is only two countries - Finland and Sweden - that meet this key objective, while the Union as a whole only registers a rather dismal 1,9 percent.

 

The priority of the day is obviously to deal with the dramatic deterioration of our economies.

 

We are conducting a combination of hyper-Keynesian policies and very loose monetary policy in order to get the financial system back in order and to revive the growth prospects.

 

If we add the automatic stabilizers - which one should - we are talking about a Union-wide stimulus package amounting to approximately 5 percent of GDP.

 

These are very big numbers by any standards. And it would be remarkable indeed if we they did not succeed in starting to turn the situation around.

 

But as this happens I believe it is imperative that we go back and look at the need for more long-term structural reforms of our economies.

 

I am among those that personally believe that we must look at the ways in which we can extend the stability offered by the Euro also to the countries of Central Europe and the Baltic area. We might note that the Euro is already the official currency of both Kosovo and Montenegro.

 

And we must certainly not overlook the fact that one of the key lessons of this crisis - hardly a new one - concern the necessity of maintaining macroeconomic stability.

 

We see those countries that in the past years failed in that respect now being far harder hit by the crisis than those that did.

 

A particular challenge in the years ahead will be to return to a fiscal order that is more sustainable and more responsible.

 

And this will be particularly both demanding and important as a number of countries are entering the decades in which our societies will start to age.

 

When our economies improve, we must thus also focus very clearly on starting to take down the massive deficits now developing.

 

It's a question not only of taking responsibility for the years ahead of us - but also for those weaker states and economies that otherwise might be squeezed out of the international credit markets.

 

We must recognize that to be competitive abroad we need to be competitive at home.

 

Thus preserving our single market and all of its rules and standards - a core achievement of our Union - will be even more important in the future than it has been in the past.

 

Our task in reforming our economies, preserving the open global economy and starting a decisive transition to a carbon-light world is no less than to help in the creation of an era of truly sustainable globalisation - to the benefit of the entire world.

 

From the G8 meeting in Italy in the next few days, over the G20 meeting in Pittsburgh, and heading to the COP15 climate conference in Copenhagen, this will be at the forefront of policy for us all.

 

The European Union has taken upon itself the ambitious task of being the global leader in this green transition.

 

We are committed to reducing our carbon emissions by 20 percent by 2020 - and we are ready to go to 30 percent if there is a global agreement with a fair sharing of the burden.

 

To achieve this will be a momentous task.

 

It will have to include reformed institutions of global governance, new mechanism of global finance, new efforts at revolutionary technologies and determined political leadership everywhere.

 

In the months ahead the European Union will have summit meetings with the top leaderships of South Africa, Brazil, China, India, Russia and the United States - and these must be summits dominated by the green diplomacy that should carry us to an agreement in Copenhagen.

 

There is little doubt that the credibility of our Union on the wider global stage has been dramatically enhanced by our successes during the past two decades - enlargement and the Euro the two most obvious.

 

And it is equally obvious that our future weight and credibility on the global stage - perhaps in particular across the Atlantic - will be a function of how we handle coming challenges related to the economy and to enlargement - to peace and prosperity of our own part of the world.

 

In much the same way as there will be a post-crisis debate on our economic strategy - with a new Lisbon strategy coming up next year - I believe there will be a new debate on strategy of enlargement and engagement in our own part of the world.

 

Already the Treaty of Rome committed us the concept of an open Europe - that enlargement so far has been a huge success is hardly disputed. And we should certainly not underestimate the transformational force that is inherent in this concept in very wide areas of our part of the world.

 

The most immediate tasks ahead are those associated with the approximately 100 million peoples of South- Eastern Europe that are now knocking on our door.

 

We have come a very long way since the brutal Balkan wars of the previous decade.

 

Serbia has the most European- and reform-oriented leadership in its history. Kosovo is an independent country. The politicians of Bosnia are quarrelling - but war will never be an option. Croatia is making substantial process in its negotiations for accession to the European Union. Albania had what seems to have been a successful election yesterday.

 

It is my hope that we, within the coming year, will be able to make a transition for all of this region to a new, more demanding and more important phase of European integration.

 

The road to membership for all of them will undoubtedly be a long one. The processes of state building in the region after the violent break-up of Yugoslavia are not finished everywhere - there are placed where it will take some time yet.

 

But for the first time since the brutal wars I genuinely feel that the forces of integration in the region are becoming stronger than the forces of disintegration.

 

That this momentum will last is by no means guaranteed. Our European policies will be crucial. And what applies in this part of South-Eastern Europe also applies elsewhere.

 

Perhaps the single most important political process in Europe in the months ahead will be the talks on bringing unity to the divided island of Cyprus.

 

Two decades after the end of the division of Berlin, it remains shameful that we still have a European capital divided by walls and barbed wire.

 

Success - or failure - of these efforts will have major ramifications for the strategic situation in South-Eastern Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean for decades to come.

 

But it will also be of critical importance for issues like making it possible for the Union and Nato to work more effectively together in Afghanistan or other challenging areas in the future.

 

There are divided views in different parts of Europe on whether our door should be open to Turkey as well - although the vast majority of member countries and the vast majority of the European Parliament support the ongoing reform and accession process.

 

I belong to those firmly convinced of the immense strategic benefits inherent in this process.

 

A Union that includes also the demographic dynamism and economic potential of Turkey will undoubtedly be a stronger Union - and a Union that can truly demonstrate that it is committed to overcoming all the obstacles of the past and the prejudices of the present will be a significantly more credible voice in the rest of the world.

 

But we all know that the road ahead will not be without its challenges.

 

During the last year we have launched a far more ambitious approach to the countries in our immediate neighbourhood than we had in the past - with the Union of the Mediterranean last year and then the Eastern Partnership this year.

 

In their different ways these are policies of high strategic significance for our European future.

The countries of North Africa and the Middle East will see a rise in population that will equal two Egypts - approximately 160 million people - during the next two decades or so.

 

With their young populations, they will experience either a huge demographic dividend as they open up their societies and economies, creating huge opportunities for all of Europe - or they will risk despair and destruction if these new millions don't see any hope for their future.

 

We have a stake in their future - and we must engage more deeply with each of them in trying to shape it.

 

To the East of our Union there is a vast region with 12 very different countries between us and the borders of China - the 80 million people of the six Eastern Partnership countries, the 140 million people of Russia and the 60 million people of Central Asia.

 

A recent report by the European Council of Foreign Relations described the situation in this area in rather bleak terms:

 

"Politics is a toxic mixture of authoritarianism and stalled democracy, ongoing secessionist tensions continue to stoke fears of violent conflict, and the economic crisis is wreaking havoc throughout the region."

 

Again, it is obvious that we have a stake in their future - and that we must engage more deeply with each of them, based on their own priorities and their own wishes.

 

That our relations with Russia have deteriorated over the conflict with Georgia - and most notably over Russian unwillingness to stand by the agreements made at the very end of that conflict - is obvious. Equally obvious is that there is some confusion over the course that Russia itself wishes to take - notably during the last few weeks on the issue of the road to membership in the WTO.

 

But we must persist in getting Russia truly involved and embedded in a rule-based European and global order - along with all others.

 

And we must not give up our efforts to convince them that nothing will bring more security to Russia than relationships with all their neighbours - including the smallest ones - based on true friendship and thrust.

 

But our ambitions are not only the ambitions to our South or to our East. We should not neglect our High North.

 

I believe it is increasingly likely that we will see an application for membership from Iceland in the near future - and this will by necessity shift our attention to the challenges of this area as well.

 

An Icelandic application must obviously be discussed on its own merits, although with its membership of the single market as well as the Schengen area the country is obviously already far into our structures and policies of integration.

 

A membership of Iceland - if that is where we end up - would not only bring in a country with a longer tradition of democracy - its parliament is more than a thousand years old - than any other European country, but would also bring our Union more directly into the strategically increasingly important Arctic issues - environmental challenges, energy possibilities and possible future revolutionary new transportation routes between the Atlantic and Pacific worlds.

 

We thus have - as Europeans - major issues in front of us when it comes to our own part of the world.

 

And it is to a large extent the way in which we handle them that gives us the necessary credibility when we try to address the wider global issues.

 

The agenda that we face from Palestine to the Punjab is most challenging.

 

And its different issues are of course intertwined with the huge issue of our relationship with the entire Muslim world - our immediate neighbour not only on the map but increasingly also across the street back home in our different  European cities.

 

It was a most important speech President Obama gave in Cairo. Its effects should not be underestimated - I believe we can already see an Obama effect in the young women confronting the fundamentalist thugs on the streets of Teheran.

 

The Great Satan is no longer there - no longer can the rulers from the past rely on the myth of a profoundly hostile West.

 

And this means that our free and democratic societies - Europe and the United States - might be beginning to regain the strength of those soft powers of transformation that at the end are more powerful than any other can be.

 

In important meetings in Trieste during the last few days we have been discussing ways ahead in trying to move towards peace in the Middle East, stability in Afghanistan, strengthened democracy in Pakistan and reconciliation with the nation of Iran.

 

That the nation of Iran needs, seeks and wants reform should by now be obvious to each and everyone.

 

The repression of the regime might succeed for the day, but it can never stop the necessity of reforms for tomorrow.

 

Our message to the nation of Iran remains what it was:

 

We want an open and constructive and friendly relationship with your nation. We respect the values of your society in the same way as you must respect the rules of the international order that ultimately works to the benefit of all of us.

 

Even confronted with the brutal scenes on the streets of Teheran - and elsewhere in Iran - we must not abandon hope.

 

There is change coming - if not today, or even tomorrow, then certainly a day thereafter.

 

And as firm and strong as we must be in clearly condemning what we see now, as firm must we be in our commitment to a truly new relationship with a coming Iran that would be ready to open up to a better future.

 

The challenges we face in the wider area of the Middle East are enormous.

 

But there are some signs that could point towards new possibilities in the years ahead.

That the fundamentalist forces in Teheran have now lost a lot of their legitimacy at home as well as abroad will have its political effects in the months and years ahead.

 

The Al Jazeera coverage of the brutality in Iran has been as open as was its coverage of the brutality of the Gaza war.

 

And as regimes are opening up, we can not fail to note that fundamentalist forces fail to attract the massive following once feared - that is the message of elections from Morocco in the West to Indonesia in the East.

 

The Arab Peace Initiative still stands, and I believe that Israel will gradually see the truly historic possibility for peace and reconciliation with not only the Palestinians of the land they share, but indeed the entire Arab and Muslim world, that it represents.

 

On all of these issues - and many more - I do believe that the voice of Europe could be more important than we ourselves sometimes see.

 

Few things have impressed me more during my now soon three years as Foreign Minister of my country than the demand for Europe that is there in the wider world.

 

One sees what we have achieved in our once so conflict-torn part of the world - and seeks inspiration and advice in one's own effort to build peace and promote democracy in one's own part of the world.

 

But in that lies a message of profound significance - it is by continuing our efforts for the peace and prosperity of all of our Europe and its immediate neighbours that we acquire the means to be an even more powerful voice in the world at large.

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