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Anförande på Strategic Military Partner Conference

Anförande i Stockholm, Sverige

It is a pleasure to welcome you all here tonight.

A few minutes ago I landed from Luxembourg, where I have spent two days together with my colleagues in the different cabinets of Europe looking at some of the issues confronting us.

Yesterday we discussed the different challenges of the diverse parts of our Eastern neighbourhood in Europe.

And we spent time on our increasingly turbulent Southern neighbourhood, with a Levant in flames and economic and political trends almost everywhere else also pointing in a worrying direction.

Over lunch, we exchanged perspectives with NATO Secretary General Rasmussen on the somewhat turbulent times that are likely to lie ahead for Afghanistan.

And today we deliberated on our EU accession policies for important parts of Southeastern Europe, with Turkey, Serbia and Kosovo in clear focus.

But we also had time to give the final approval to the Council decision on a cyber security strategy for the European Union that we have been working on for some time.

These two days of mine in Luxembourg illustrate something fundamental about our situation today - we face new challenges, there might well be turbulent times ahead, but we can only meet and master them if we work even more closely together.

That was not always the case.

From here you can see our magnificent Town Hall, and at its side you see the symbolic tomb of the founder of Stockholm, Birger Jarl.

That was way back in the mid-13th century.

The evil Estonians coming over the sea from the east had just ravaged, pillaged and destroyed our then capital Sigtuna.

And there was a need to build a more fortified position here. But Birger Jarl also ventured east to seek fame and fortune.

On the ice of the river Neva he met the forces of the then Mongol vassal Alexander in a battle that made the latter famous as Alexander Nevsky.

You can see cathedrals dedicated to him all over the Russian-speaking world.

A couple of years ago he was voted the most admired Russian throughout history.

But Sweden as such really only emerged in 1523 when the then King Gustav Vasa broke first with the Nordic Union of Kalmar - seen as far too Danish - and then with the Pope and all that the rest of Europe stood for.

Since then - nearly half a millennium - Stockholm has been one of the very few European capitals where foreign forces of occupation and war have never set their foot.

And we have been more fortunate than most others in having kept out of war for no less than two centuries - in October it will be 200 years since the Battle of the Nations in Leipzig, where Swedish forces, under Russian command, fought their (so far) last major battle in helping to defeat Napoleon.

We survived the European turmoil of these centuries, partly by sheer luck, partly through some skill. Our policy was a policy of staying aloof from the conflicts of our part of the world.

But two decades ago it all changed, and we entered a fundamentally new phase as we negotiated for accession to the European Union, laying to rest a long tradition of aspiring to neutrality in any conflict on the European continent, and seeking an active role in building new structures of cooperation, integration and security in our part of the world.

And that was the shift that also took me to Luxembourg in the last few days as part of our active efforts to build a more secure Europe better able to contribute to security and stability also in the wider world.

These two decades have in many ways been enormously successful for Europe.

We saw the peaceful reunification of Germany. The three Baltic nations managed to restore their independence, and we were able to help in removing massive Soviet military facilities.

And gradually we saw the integration of the 100 million people from ten nations stretching from the Gulf of Finland down towards the Bosporus into the Euro-Atlantic security structures of the European Union and the Atlantic Alliance.

These were successes - and from them we can learn. But there were also failures.

We had a decade of successive wars of Yugoslav dissolution from Slovenia in 1991 to the strife in Macedonia in 2001.

Two decades ago we sent the Swedish army into Bosnia, first under the command of the United Nations and then, after the Dayton Peace Agreement, under the flag of NATO, to help contain the forces of evil and contribute to stability in our own part of the world.

We could no longer be neutral.

We wanted to be part of the common efforts for security. Since then, we have taken one step after the other.

During my time as Minister for Foreign Affairs alone, we have decided to send our army to Chad, our navy to the Gulf of Aden and our air force to Libya - all this in addition to previous heavy commitments in the Balkans and the Hindu Kush.

And we have just decided to take part in both the EU and the UN missions in Mali. The security and stability of the Sahel is part of the security and stability of Europe.

But we have learnt anew that peace is far more than just the absence of war - and that building a stable state is a far more complex, far more time-consuming and far more costly undertaking than the simple act of destroying one.

We learnt that lesson in the aftermath of the destruction of the multi-national empires after World War I - notably the Ottoman Empire - and we have learnt that lesson again from the very different examples of Yugoslavia, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Before you proceed down one seemingly simple path, you are wise to contemplate the difficulties you are certain to encounter at some point further along that very same path.

We are now discussing how to increase our political and economic engagement with Afghanistan as our security engagement winds down. To walk away is to invite disaster. Next year will be a critical year in the future of the country.

We are actively seeking the integration of all the countries of the Western Balkans to stabilise their sometimes fragile new states, facilitate reconciliation and contain the forces of revenge and retribution that may otherwise easily surge back again.

We are trying to put in place the different pieces of a long-term strategy to bring stability and progress to the entire region immediately to the south of the Sahara - from Somalia to Senegal.

And we are acutely aware of all the challenges mounting in key parts of the entire volatile area from the Nile to the Indus. There are no easy answers - there are only difficult roads ahead.

Egypt along just one river will soon have nearly as many inhabitants as Russia with its eleven time zones.

But as we contemplate these issues, awareness is also gradually rising of the numerous new security challenges we are facing in all the different domains from outer space to cyberspace.

Once upon a time, security was primarily a question of territorial security. Armies faced each other to secure the borders each of the nations claimed.

And territorial security is certainly still important.

But in this age of accelerating globalisation, the prosperity of our nations and the wellbeing of our citizens are increasingly dependent on the security of the flows across those borders and boundaries often drawn in blood by the armies of the past.

The huge container ships in their pendulum swings across the oceans from the Pacific to the Atlantic. The vast global network of air communications, with its hubs in Frankfurt, Singapore, Dubai or Atlanta.

And the tremendous increase in connectivity we see as the terabytes sweep through the satellite transponders, fibre optic cables and rapidly expanding mobile networks.

The age of globalisation in trade and investment is now evolving into also being the age of hyperconnectivity in ideas and information.

Within five years, approximately 85 per cent of the world's population will be covered by mobile broadband, and you can rest assured that young boys and girls virtually everywhere will see their smartphone as perhaps their single most important possession.

Our economies and our societies will be moving into 'the cloud' with its vast new opportunities but also its scary new vulnerabilities.

The security of the networks and flows is rapidly becoming perhaps the most important challenge when it comes to safeguarding our societies and their way of life.

In the past, old armies stood against each other safeguarding borders and boundaries.

But in this new age, much as we must work together on all the security challenges of state disintegration and state-building, we need our new armies also to reach out across the borders and boundaries and work together to protect these networks and flows.

And we also need to develop new structures and partnerships in all these areas.

As a nation in the forefront of developing all the opportunities of the new digital age, we must also be in the forefront of seeking new ways of cooperation to secure them for each and everyone.

It is in this spirit that Sweden is also developing its approach to security.

We are key supporters of the enlargement of the European Union, and of building new partnerships towards the east and the south as far as we can. This is peace-building in its true sense of the word.

We certainly are promoting the further evolution of our EU Common Foreign and Security Policy, improving its capacity to deploy comprehensive civil-military missions and to develop security dialogues and partnerships around the world.

We are increasing cooperation in the Nordic and Baltic area also in the key area of defence.

Up in our North, the air forces of Sweden, Finland and Norway are now training more intensely together than perhaps any other air forces in Europe today.

Next year, they will do this based in Iceland as well.

And we are developing our partnership with NATO in all the different areas of mutual interest.

Exercises with partner nations in NATO will also be increasingly important to our armed forces in the years to come.

While not a member, we see the Article V commitment of NATO to all its member countries as of profound importance to the security of our part of Europe.

Territorial security remains important.

Flow security is rapidly gaining in importance.

And while capabilities are obviously key, in this world of ours what we might call knowledge-based security becomes increasingly important.

In all of this, we must work together, build new partnerships and - let's not forget this - attend and enjoy conferences like this.

Thank you.

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