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Anförande vid CSIS

Anförande i Washington DC, USA

It is a delight to be back in Washington again, and no less a delight to be back here at CSIS again. Your work on numerous topics has been of tremendous importance in the evolution of policy on both sides of the Atlantic.

You have just gone through your important elections, and politics in Europe is dominated by the different economic challenges we face.

And to an outside observer it certainly looks as if both Europe and the US will be preoccupied with what President Obama referred to as "nation building at home" for years to come.

That was the message we heard from your recent election campaign, and that is certainly the message coming out of the different EU summits.

It is a fact that large parts of the European Union will undoubtedly have to give the issues of debts and deficits a much higher priority in their policies in the years ahead.

And as both deficits and debts are larger here in the US, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that the same will apply here as well.

To this should be added that we both face the challenge of the competitiveness of our economies from the fast- growing economies of Asia.

And that we - Europe more than the US - must face the prospect of societies getting older in the decades ahead. After the challenge of debts and deficits, we face the challenge of the ageing of our societies.

I believe it is necessary to face up to these challenges. They are grave, but they are not unsurmountable.

We have faced and gone through more difficult periods during the process of reform and integration in Europe during the last half a century or so.

And we should not hide the strengths that we do have.

The economies of the Nordic and Baltic world - which together are among the ten largest economies of the world -are as a matter of fact doing relatively well.

Much is now on the challenges of the economies of Southern Europe.

But I think it would be a mistake to underestimate the medium- and long-term effects of the reform chock they are now going through.

The pain at the moment is certainly severe, but the gain further ahead could also be substantial.

Remember that it was only a decade ago that The Economist labelled Germany as the sick man of Europe. And a further decade ago also Sweden was in a severe structural economic crisis.

Not to speak about Turkey.

Opening up markets, inside Europe by the deepening and widening of our internal market, including also the rapidly developing service and digital sectors, as well globally through free trade agreements is clearly one of the important ways ahead.

As we speak the EU is negotiating free trade agreements with a number of countries including Canada, Singapore and India.

If we complete all trade deals currently under negotiation, our combined GDP could be increased by up to Euro 60 billion a year.

And earlier today in Brussels the Council of Ministers gave a mandate to the Commission to start negotiating a free trade agreement also with Japan.

But so far there is the absence of sustained effort to move towards a Trans-Atlantic Free Trade Area.

And this is a deficit that we should have a mutual interest in repairing in the coming months.

It would be an important political signal.

There is little doubt that this would be a great boost to growth on both sides of the Atlantic. And this is something that we both truly need.

The Swedish Trade Board recently concluded that it could increase trade between the EU and US by at least 20 per cent.

And there isn't a politician who would not be able to translate these figures into new jobs back home.

But even if the economic and growth agenda - "nation building at home" - might be the mantra of the immediate future on both sides of the Atlantic, we ignore the outside world at our own peril.

Much has been discussed about the announced US "pivot to Asia", and the fact that we all have to devote more attention to the consequences of the rise of China and the different issues of Asia is unlikely to be disputed anywhere.

At the summit meeting between the nations of Europe and Asia in Vientiane in Laos a couple of weeks ago, we had to witness a verbal duel between China and Japan over their recent island dispute of a sort normally reserved for Armenia and Azerbaijan.

But the symbolism of what has happened during the last two weeks should not be missed.

Secretary Clinton had to alter her schedule in Asia and rush to the Middle East to support the efforts to bring the latest round of war over Gaza to an end.

And if there is one clear message from us in Europe to Washington these days it is this: there can be no pivoting away from all the dangers between the Nile and the Indus and our responsibility to try to move them towards peaceful resolution.

Last week Thomas Friedman in one of his columns painted a grim picture of what might happen in the year to come:

"The whole Middle East erupts in one giant sound and light show of civil wars, states collapsing and refugee dislocations as the keystone of the entire region - Syria - gets pulled asunder and the disorder spills across the neighbourhood".

During my by now six years as one of the EU foreign ministers, I have never been as worried by the trends I see in this wider region as I am today.

There is certainly the forces and trends of the hopeful Arab Spring moving forward.

Egypt is facing very substantial issues, economic as well as political, but its development so far has managed to avoid the grim predictions made, and the possibilities of democratic consolidation should not be underestimated.

And the importance of Egypt for long-term developments in the wider Arab world is of course great. But it is in the wider Levant we see developments on a course that could lead to catastrophe.

If there was one positive outcome of this Gaza war it could be that it refocused attention on the need to move forward towards a two-state solution with Israel and Palestine.

Policies of creating new facts on the ground through illegal settlements as well as political trends in the region are likely to make a two-state solution increasingly difficult in the years ahead.

This is profoundly dangerous since there is no realistic alternative if we want to avoid further confrontation, further strife and further war.

In my opinion, it would have been truly wise and far-sighted policy by both Israel and the United States to engage in supporting a resolution in the United Nations rewarding the forces of peace by upgrading the status of Palestine to one of non-member observer state.

It would have been an even stronger endorsement of a negotiated, mutually agreed two-state solution. It would have facilitated the immediate resumption of direct talks between the parties to this end.

And, crucially, it would have been the best thing for the Palestinians, for Israel and for the region as a whole. In fact, I have heard no coherent and credible argument against such a step.

After the vote in the UN later today we could see developments along either of two lines.

Either one that in some sort of revenge cuts funding to the Palestinian administration, punishing it and perhaps even forcing it to collapse.

There can be very little doubt which forces such a policy will play into the hands of.

Or a policy that recognises the overwhelming international support for a two state-solution and engages in immediate, open and honest negotiations towards a such.

The parameters for the solution are well established. The European Union has been explicit, and the United States only marginally less so.

Israel would be short-sighted not to see the opportunity, and the Palestinians would be foolish not to seize the moment.

They would both have the support for a solution of the entire both Western and Arab worlds.

I heard it repeated during the presidential campaign that the United States is an indispensable nation in the world of today.

In theory, I would not disagree.

But now is the time to prove it in practice, and the peace process between Israel and Palestine is the place to do it.

That the European Union is ready to be a strong partner for peace in this region goes without saying.

This region is our immediate neighbour. Not only on the map, but increasingly across the street back home.

Close to 2% of Sweden's population is coming from Iraq. Approximately one percent has its background in Iran. We are home to the largest community of Syrians in Europe.

We have a profound interest in what is happening there.

The civil war in Syria has now claimed four times as many lives as the war in Kosovo and is approaching half the number killed in the long years of wars in Bosnia.

But neither should we forget the even higher number of people killed during a decade of civil war in Algeria or the still even higher number killed during the even longer civil war in Lebanon.

There are no models. Just tragedies. And consequences for decades to come.

The longer the fighting goes on, the more difficult will be the road back to some sort of stable state of Syria.

And the greater will be the risk that we will face years of sectarian strife stretching from Beirut to Bagdad, Basra and Bahrain.

Thus, we now ought to seek to reengage the UN Security Council in an effort to achieve the peaceful transition that everyone desires.

The Geneva document that has been agreed by the P5 as well as others can be the basis for a peaceful and fast transition to the post-Assad regime.

There are those who want to see a purely military solution.

But a profoundly fractured society and a seriously destroyed country will hardly be a base for stability in the years ahead.

A political transition is difficult in nearly every respect. It might not even be possible.

But the alternative is even more difficult in its immediate humanitarian and in its long-term political consequences.

And this, in my opinion, has to guide our policy in this difficult and important situation.

A strong effort, with the United State truly engaged, to reach a two-state solution between Israel and Palestine would obviously help in this respect as well.

It would avoid the impression of a United States - and a Europe - just drifting away from the region. It would increase respect for the totality of our efforts in the region.

And the same applies to seeking a negotiated solution when it comes to the dispute with Iran over its nuclear program.

The war drums over the issue has subsided for the time being, and the true time for diplomacy might have come.

We don't know.

Iran has certainly missed opportunities before. But so have we - clearly in 2003 and, in my opinion, also in 2010.

It is not difficult to image the contours of a possible deal, but it is less easy to see how we can go from here to there.

There is an enormous gap of mistrust primarily between the United States and Iran.

There is a price to be paid in the domestic a struggles in Teheran for moving towards compromise, and the same could well apply in Western capitals.

But if you take a longer look at the issue, the issues between the US and Iran today are hardly greater than they were between the US and Mao's China four decades ago.

There was - with good reason - strong opposition to the way China was governed.

Millions after millions had perished under the brutal policies of the Communist dictatorship. Direct and indirect wars had been fought with it both in Korea and in Indochina.

But the strategic interest prevailed.

An element of constructive ambiguity was necessary. There was certainly intense controversy at the time - today the wisdom of that move is hailed by each and everyone.

It might not be possible to repeat this today with Iran. We might be set on a course for war that can not be avoided.

But as we are heading towards the year in which we will remember the catastrophe of the European summer of 1914 - the absence of diplomacy, the abundance of emotions, the haphazard attitude to the risks of war - it is an imperative to try to avert a repetition.

Tom Friedman's gloomy thought on what might lie ahead might turn into grim reality.

We might face a new collapse between Israel and Palestine, a prolonged civil war stretching across the Levant and the beginning of long armed conflict with Iran from Afghanistan to Mesopotamia.

It is high time to pivot to a policy of peace for the entire volatile region between the Nile and the Indus.

If you get the impression that we see this as a priority from the European point of view you are certainly right. But there are other issues where we must also seek to develop effective common policies.

We certainly need to continue or commitment in the Balkans.

We certainly have a profound common interest in engaging with Turkey and encouraging its European accession path.

And then there is Russia.

Today it is still the most populous of the neighbours of the European Union. Within some decades, it might be challenged by Egypt.

We have a deep interest in the modernisation of Russia.

But it needs more than just a couple of new machines for production.

It needs a need model of governance, opening up to the demands of a more modern and outward-looking society, and facilitating its evolution to a more broad-based economy competitive in the new global economy. There is a new Russia there already.

Weekend shoppers in thousands from St Petersburg are filling the boutiques of Helsinki and Stockholm. Vacationers in millions are streaming to the holiday destinations of Turkey and Egypt.

And I believe this new Russia will demand new policies.

It seems strange indeed that the state budget today is radically increasing defence spending while at the same time reducing spending on health and education.

It is - to put it mildly - not only the United States and countries of the EU that would be wise to focus more on the internal challenges of reform.

The European Union has offered Russia a true partnership for modernisation, but since it takes two to tango progress has been slow.

Looking towards our East, we have offered Ukraine as well as Moldova and Georgia Association Agreements that include what we call Comprehensive Free Trade Agreements - DCFTA in Eurospeak.

These are far reaching agreements on economic harmonisation and integration.

Negotiations with Ukraine have been concluded, and there is the possibility that the same will be achieved with Moldova and Georgia during the year to come.

But where Ukraine is heading is less than clear.

Political trials in combination with muddled policies of reform and an election that left much to be desired has put a big question mark on our possibilities to pursue the agreements.

There is talk of Ukraine heading either West or East, but on present policies I fear it is primarily heading down. We will continue to engage its leadership to give it better possibilities for the future.

These are policies of long-term engagement for economic modernisation, the rule of the law and representative governments towards our East.

And over time we are seeking to offer the same policies to the countries of Middle East and North Africa taking all the obvious differences into account.

In the past decades, they have not been able to benefits from the effects of globalisation, and their growth has been well below other emerging economies.

With their rapid population increases, they now have among the highest rates of youth unemployment in the world.

The so called Arab Spring was to a very large extent a revolution of rising expectations driven by the young and the educated.

The task ahead for these countries is gigantic.

IMF says that "to absorb the unemployed and new entrants to the labor force, MENA emerging economies would require annual real GDP growth of more than 7½ percent - almost 3 percentage points higher than the average achieved in the past decade."

This is not achievable without profound policy reforms and opening up of the sort that we have seen Turkey pursuing particularly since becoming part of the EU Customs Union in 1995.

To achieve this is essential if we shall avoid the revolution of rising expectations of yesterday turning into a revolution of failed expectations tomorrow.

Its policies could be very different from what both we and the aspiring new Arab generations truly seek. Also here the policies of the European Union are of key importance.

And we are certainly moving forward.

Instability, turmoil and despair towards our South is distinctly not in our interest.

And this applies also as we are now, by the force of events, having to focus attention on the fragile belt of states immediately to the South of the Sahara.

We have been moderately successful in moving the situation in Somalia forward. We had to intervene to help the UN in Chad a couple of years ago.

But we are now clearly facing new challenges in Mali.

When discussing security in the past, our focus was often on the territorial security of our nations. That's the way it has been since Westphalia in 1648.

And for centuries security was to a large extent a question of having the armies to prevent other armies from crossing your borders.

But in this age of accelerating globalisation it is increasingly the flows across the borders and boundaries of the past that secures the prosperity and stability of our societies.

We are starting to speak about "flow security".

Securing the maritime trade routes in the Gulf of Aden. Protecting the international air traffic system. Facilitating the free and secure flow of the terabytes of data now taking us into a world of hyper connectivity.

Just one fact: in five years time mobile broadband use is likely to have grown by a factor of 15 and reach 85% of the global population.

Here the Atlantic nations have a key role as the standard bearers of globalisation and integration. Our role as proposing the rules and of helping to secure that they are adhered to will be of rapidly rising importance.

But much as we have a role in promoting and protecting the "good" flows we have an increasingly important role in preventing the "evil" flows.

You know the challenges of this well.

The war over the drug smuggling routes through Central America and Mexico is claiming more lives than the conflict in Afghanistan.

And we see the same dangers elsewhere.

The fragile belt of the Sahel is easing the flows of trafficking, of guns and terror, of drugs and other smuggled goods into Europe.

And we should not underestimate the dangers of the flows of drugs and weapons from Afghanistan threatening the far from stable states of Central Asia in the years to come. Baluchistan is a warning sign.

This will require new forms of international cooperation to fight.

Missile defence might turn out to be easier that drug defence, and failure might well be more costly to the stability of entire regions.

And let me conclude with an area where we both see new international cooperation developing and the dismal failure of international cooperation.

I'm taking of the High North - of the Arctic that is turning into a hot topics of global politics.

There might still be the occasional dissenter out there, but very few can now deny the fact of global warming. Welcome to the Arctic! Here it is happening twice as fast as elsewhere.

This summer we have seen the icecap receding further than at any recorded time before. On present trends, there will be ice free summers in the Arctic in less than three decades.

China sent its new icebreaker on a journey through the Bering's Strait, north of Siberia and to Iceland.

On its return journey it went up to the North Pole which, by the way, was visited this summer for the seventh time by the Swedish icebreaker Oden.

And as we speak - we are in late November! - a Russian LNG tanker is on its way from Hammerfest in Northern Norway to its destination in Japan.

It will reach its destination 20 days faster than would otherwise have been the cash.

The eight nations of the Arctic Council, now under the chairmanship of Sweden, is developing new networks of cooperation in this increasingly important area.

In the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea we have a sound legal basis for resolving outstanding issues.

And in the constructive atmosphere of our work the hope for making this a region of true collaboration between all the countries concerned.

It is - to conclude - truly a complex reality that we have in front if us.

We have the task of the the nation building at home, on both sides if the Atlantic.

We face a wide range of foreign policy challenges, not least in the area between the Indus and the Nile.

And we have all the new issues, such as the Arctic, which bring opportunities as well as risks.

Success will - as always - require the closest co-operation between the United States and the European Union.

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