Carl Bildt

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For the Swedish diplomat and historian, see Carl Bildt (1850–1931).
Carl Bildt
Carl Bildt under nationaldagsfirande vid Skansen 2009.jpg
Minister for Foreign Affairs
In office
6 October 2006 – 3 October 2014
(7 years, 362 days)
Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt
Preceded by Jan Eliasson
Succeeded by Margot Wallström
28th Prime Minister of Sweden
In office
4 October 1991 – 7 October 1994
(3 years, 3 days)
Monarch Carl XVI Gustaf
Deputy Bengt Westerberg
Preceded by Ingvar Carlsson
Succeeded by Ingvar Carlsson
High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina
In office
14 December 1995 – 18 June 1997
(1 year, 186 days)
Preceded by Position established
Succeeded by Carlos Westendorp
Leader of the Moderate Party
In office
23 August 1986 – 4 September 1999
(13 years, 12 days)
Preceded by Ulf Adelsohn
Succeeded by Bo Lundgren
Personal details
Born Nils Daniel Carl Bildt
(1949-07-15) 15 July 1949 (age 66)
Halmstad, Sweden
Political party Moderate Party
Spouse(s) Kerstin Zetterberg (1974–1975)
Mia Bohman (1984–1997)
Anna Corazza (1998–present)
Children 3
Alma mater Stockholm University

Nils Daniel Carl Bildt (born 15 July 1949) is a Swedish politician and diplomat who was Prime Minister of Sweden from 1991-94. He was the leader of the Moderate Party from 1986-99. Bildt served as Sweden's Minister for Foreign Affairs from 2006-14.

He had been noted internationally as a mediator in the Yugoslav wars, serving as the European Union's Special Envoy to the Former Yugoslavia from June 1995, co-chairman of the Dayton Peace Conference in November 1995 and High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina from December 1995 to June 1997, immediately after the Bosnian War. From 1999 to 2001, he served as the United Nations Secretary-General's Special Envoy for the Balkans.


Bildt was born on 15 July 1949 in Halmstad, Halland, to an old Norwegian-Danish-Swedish noble family traditionally domiciled in Bohus county. Bildt's father Daniel Bildt (1920–2010) was a former major in the reserves of the now defunct Halland Regiment and a former bureau director in the now defunct Civil Defense Board's Education Bureau. Daniel Bildt married Kerstin Andersson-Alwå in 1947. Carl Bildt's brother, Nils, was born in 1952. Bildt was married to Kerstin Zetterberg from 1974–75; to Mia Bohman (daughter of former Moderate party leader and Minister of Economy, Gösta Bohman) from 1984–97; and, since 1998, to Anna Maria Corazza. Bildt has three children; two from his second marriage and one from his third marriage.[citation needed]

Early career[edit]

Bildt attended Stockholm University but never graduated. In 1968, while studying at Stockholm University, Bildt opposed the occupation of the Student Union Building and co-founded the Borgerliga Studenter – Opposition '68 group. He served as chairman of the FMSF Confederation of Swedish Conservative and Liberal Students, a centre-right student organisation, in the early 1970s. Bildt displayed his commitment to the European Union project through joining the Young European Federalists and later becoming vice president of the Swedish section. In 2012, he stated, through his Twitter account, "I still believe that we must continue building federation of nation states. Necessary evolution to meet new challenges."[1]

When the non-socialist formed government in 1976, Bildt served as the Moderate Party coordinator as close collaborator of the party leader and Minister of Economy Gösta Bohman. Bildt became a Member of Parliament in 1979, although he instead served as State Secretary for Policy Coordination in the reformed non-socialist government after that election. As an MP in the early eighties, he became noted as an incisive and combative debater on foreign affairs, and found himself pitted against prime minister Olof Palme. Bildt was elected leader of the Moderate Party in 1986, succeeding Ulf Adelsohn. In 1991, the Social Democrats were defeated by a four-party coalition led by Bildt's Moderate Party.[citation needed]

Prime Minister[edit]

On 4 October 1991, Bildt became the first conservative prime minister in Sweden in 61 years. His government policies focused on liberalizing and reforming the Swedish economy and making Sweden a member of the European Union. It initiated negotiations for Sweden's accession to the European Union, though the work to prepare the ground, at home and versus the EEC/EU, had already started during the final year of the Social Democratic government. The Social Democrats' volte face on possible accession to the EEC was most likely a prerequisite for the positive referendum result. Bildt signed the accession treaty at the European Union summit of Corfu on 23 June 1994.

Economic reforms were enacted, including voucher schools, liberalizing markets for telecommunications and energy, privatizing publicly owned companies and health care, contributing to liberalizing the Swedish economy. Arguably, the subsequent budget cut-backs agreement with the Social Democrats and the continued spending cuts by the Social Democratic government following 1994 did more to reform the Swedish economy and the Swedish model than Bildt's government's program. The government's effectiveness was hampered by in-fighting, most memorably over the construction of the Øresund Bridge.

The period was marked by a severe economic crisis.[2] In November 1992, the crisis reached its climax when Sweden left the European Exchange Rate Mechanism and let the Krona float, after having defended the fixed exchange rate at tremendous cost. In some people's opinion, single-minded defense of the Krona led to and continues to draw heavy criticism. Emergency cut-backs were negotiated with the Social Democrats during the crisis.

The measures helped reduce the public deficit in 1994 and 1995, and allegedly revived growth in subsequent years. There is debate on whether the economic growth of 2006 were due to the devaluation of the Krona. Although Bildt's Moderate Party scored a slight gain in the 1994 election, the Social Democrats gained slightly more ground, enough to unseat him after only one term. He served as leader of the opposition until 1999, when he was succeeded as party leader by Bo Lundgren.

Balkan conflict[edit]

Bildt and Richard Holbrooke before peace talks in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina in October 1995.
Bildt in a meeting with former US President Bill Clinton at Grand Hotel in Stockholm on 15 May 2001.

After his term as prime minister, Bildt was active as a mediator in the Balkans conflict, serving as the European Union Special Envoy to Former Yugoslavia from June 1995, co-chairman of the Dayton Peace Conference in November 1995, and High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina from December 1995 to June 1997 immediately after the Bosnian War. From 1999 to 2001, he served as the United Nations Secretary General's Special Envoy for the Balkans.[citation needed]

Bildt was named persona non-grata in Croatia after he stated that the first President of Croatia, Franjo Tuđman, was as guilty of war crimes as the Krajina Serb leader Milan Martić.[3][4]

Kosovo unilaterally declared its independence from Serbia on 17 February 2008, without the approval of the UN Security Council, and Sweden recognised it on 4 March 2008.[5] On 8 March 2008, Carl Bildt became the first foreign minister to officially visit Kosovo since it declared its independence.[citation needed]

Minister for Foreign Affairs[edit]

Bildt with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in Washington, D.C. on 24 October 2006.

On 6 October 2006, Bildt was appointed as Minister of Foreign Affairs in the newly formed cabinet of Fredrik Reinfeldt. This was seen by many as a surprising move. Not only had Bildt already served both as prime minister and as leader of the Moderate Party, but he and Reinfeldt had previously not got along very well.[6] He retained this post following the 2010 general election.

He lost his post after the 2014 general election, and moved on to become a board member of the International Crisis Group.[7]

Controversies and criticisms[edit]

Opposition parties, politicians and journalists have questioned Carl Bildt's suitability as Sweden's Foreign Minister for his private stance on international issues and his private affairs as a businessman with interest in Russian gas giant Gazprom and Lundin Petroleum, an oil company with activities in war-torn Sudan.[8][9]

Lundin Oil operations in Sudan[edit]

Bildt joined the board of directors of Lundin Oil AB in 2000. Lundin Oil was the lead operator of a consortium that worked in the area that had become the center stage of Sudan's civil war. He won the public debate in Sweden, allowing Lundin Oil to pursue its activities in Sudan.[citation needed] In June 2010, the European Coalition on Oil in Sudan published the report 'Unpaid Debt', saying why Lundin may have been complicit in war crimes and crimes against humanity. The company has denied any wrongdoing. The Swedish public prosecutor opened a criminal investigation. Human Rights Watch says blame for the activities in Block 5A in Sudan is held by Lundin Oil, saying that "no war-related displacement at all took place there until 1998", the year when Lundin Oil established themselves in Sudan.[10]

Personal interests[edit]

After leaving his position as leader of the Moderate Party in 1999, other than engaging in international issues, Bildt took positions in the private sector and positions with international think tanks.[citation needed] His positions in think tanks included serving as the first non-US member on the Board of Trustees of the RAND Corporation in Santa Monica, California, and on the Advisory Board of the Centre for European Reform in London. He was a member of the board of the European Policy Centre in Brussels, the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, and the International Advisory Board of the Council on Foreign Affairs in New York.

Bildt served as non-executive director of the Baltimore-based US assets management company Legg Mason, Inc. He served as chairman of the board of Teleopti and chairman of the public affairs consultancy Kreab AB, and board member of the IT consultancy HiQ AB. He was chairman of Nordic Venture Network, which brought Nordic high-tech VC firms together in an informal network. In 2002, Bildt joined the board of directors of Vostok Nafta, a financial company primarily with holdings in Gazprom. Bildt was a member of the board of independent oil company Lundin Petroleum. He left his positions on the boards upon becoming Foreign Minister in October 2006.

Bildt has been criticized for the potential conflict of interest due to his previous position in Vostok Nafta, although he could not divest his stock options until the first two weeks of December 2006. The conflict of interest has the potential to affect Sweden's relations with other European Union countries and Russia, since many EU countries are dependent on Russian oil and gas for their energy needs.[citation needed]

On 20 October 2006, Ulf Holm, a member of parliament for the Green Party, reported the Foreign Minister to the Riksdag Constitutional Committee to determine whether Bildt's private economic affairs might represent a conflict of interest. Carl Söderbergh, Secretary General for the Swedish section of Amnesty International, has criticized Bildt since Human Rights issues are within the portfolio of the Minister for Foreign Affairs.

Criticism of Bildt for his interests subsided after he announced his intentions of divesting himself of all financial ties with the company. The work by the Constitutional Committee of the Parliament could not find any grounds for questioning the activities of Bildt in these regards. It was revealed that Swedish state pension funds (Swedish: AP-fonderna) had invested over one billion Swedish krona (140 million US$ or 75 million GBP) in Vostok Nafta.[11]

Bildt is also a Member of the Global Leadership Foundation (chaired by FW de Klerk) that works to support democratic leadership, prevent and resolve conflict through mediation and promote good governance in the form of democratic institutions, open markets, human rights and the rule of law. It does so by making available, discreetly and in confidence, the experience of former leaders to today’s national leaders. It is a not-for-profit organisation composed of former heads of government, senior governmental and international organization officials who work closely with heads of government on governance-related issues of concern to them.

Bosnian war mediator criticisms[edit]

While prime minister, he was accused of indifference to the ethnic cleansing and genocide committed by the Bosnian Serb forces against Muslim and Croat civilians.[12][13] Bildt opposed any military intervention and criticized the former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher in 1993 for calling NATO to intervene against the Bosnian Serb forces, which led to the Sunday Times describing Bildt and other EU leaders as "robotic political pygmies" and their acceptance of the ongoing genocide as "shameful".[13]

Following Bildt's appointment as the EU special envoy to Yugoslavia, Tom Warrick from the Coalition for International Justice described Bildt as "dangerously misinformed about his own job description" and largely ignorant about the region.[12][14] The New York Times criticized Bildt for a nonchalant attitude towards the Srebrenica massacre when over 8,000 Bosniaks were killed,[12] and described him as being burdened with a reputation for accepting Bosnian Serb claims of good behavior at face value and overlooking evidence of atrocities against civilians.[15]

Following the early release of convicted war criminal Biljana Plavšić from a Swedish prison in 2009, Bildt was reported to Sweden's Committee on the Constitution for being disqualified to take part in such a decision. Bildt was accused of being personally involved in the case and being personally close to Plavšić.[16][17] Bildt testified at Plavšićs trial in 2002 at the Hague praising her, calling her post-war actions "brave" and "courageous".[18]

Middle East[edit]

Bildt has been questioned for his role as a member of the International Advisory Council of the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq, a group with ties to the Bush administration pushing for an invasion of Iraq in 2003.[19]

On 8 April 2008, during his visit in Israel and Palestinian Authority, Bildt gave an interview to Swedish state radio, where he responded to a question on whether it would be possible to strike a peace deal without the involvement of the Palestinian group Hamas, which remained under international boycott. He responded that the Palestinian Fatah-backed government could deal with Israel, in the same way that it was possible for the Israeli government to make peace with Fatah over the objections of the former Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who, similarly to Hamas opposed a two-state deal. Israeli officials issued very strongly worded condemnations of this, describing it as "horrible and stupid" and an example of "chutzpah" and "complete ignorance of the Middle East", on the grounds that they saw it as comparing Hamas and Netanyahu as equals.[20]

South Ossetian conflict[edit]

After the 2008 South Ossetia war,[21] Bildt wrote on his blog that the Russian rationale for its intervention, concern for the welfare of its expatriates in the Near Abroad, had similarities with the rationale for the annexation of Sudetenland. The Russian reaction was strong, and the Russian Foreign Ministry announced that Bildt was no longer considered welcome in Moscow. Bildt called South Ossetian independence "a joke", and said it would be supported only by a "miserable" lot of countries.[22]

He became considered unwelcome in Russia after comparing its handling of the 2008 South Ossetia War to Nazi Germany under Hitler, and was prevented from visiting Sri Lanka.[3][4]


Bildt was described in leaked United States documents as thinking he has more power and influence than he really has and was called a "medium size dog with big dog attitude".[23] The US president George W. Bush was advised before a meeting to "play on Bildt's desire to operate at a high level" and to pretend to be impressed by his previous international assignments.[24]

Crisis in Ukraine[edit]

Bildt visiting the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, 11 April 2014.
Map of the EU 28: Eastern Partnership.

Bildt, together with Polish Foreign Minister Radosław Sikorski, is one of the main architects of the Eastern policy of the EU.[25]

During the 2014 unrest in Ukraine, Carl Bildt has been criticized in Swedish media for ignoring and downplaying the issues with fascism and right-wing extremism in the Ukrainian Svoboda party.[26][27][28][29] Johan Croneman at Dagens Nyheter has also condemned Bildt for pushing Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt to rephrase himself after having expressed understanding of the Russians' concerns about the situation.[27]

In a public message on Twitter, Bildt compared Viktor Yanukovych to Vidkun Quisling, writing that he was "sitting on foreign soil begging a foreign army to give his country to him". This has been described as "undiplomatic" by Christer Jönsson, professor in Political Science at the Lund University.[30] Norwegian politician Anniken Huitfeldt also criticized Bildt's statement, saying that it showed "ignorance of history" and that it "does not contribute to solving the conflict".[31] Torsten Kälvemark from Aftonbladet has criticized Bildt's statement as well. "Our Foreign Minister is ignorant, because it was actually Norway's legal head of state, Haakon VII, that during the war sat on foreign soil and hoped that he would with help from the British get back his country", he remarked.[32]

Stefan Hedlund, professor at Uppsala University, stated that "Carl Bildt's threatening rhetoric should in this context be regarded as extremely destructive", in an article about the Ukrainian crisis. Hedlund also suggested that Bildt should take a "time-out", and that progress can only be made through dialogue with Russia.[33]

In a radio interview with channel SR P1 on March 15, Bildt stated that he considers the Crimean referendum illegal, and "invalid, no matter which way people vote". He continued his refusal to answer questions about Svoboda, saying that he "won't describe what that party is". His overall comment on the new regime in Kiev was that it's a "reasonable and democratic government" and that he does not want to "play along with Russian propaganda".[34]

Mikael Nyberg, author and journalist for Aftonbladet, has criticized Bildt for describing the Russian annexation of Crimea as "the law of the jungle", when Sweden at the same time provides navigational support for U.S. drone warfare in Pakistan, something which Nyberg argues has been done with low respect for international laws and civilian collateral damage.[35]

In early 2015, a study made at the Swedish Defence Research Agency stated that Bildt had been a target of information warfare and that he was "regularly smeared in Russian state-controlled media". The reason was described to be Bildt's involvement in the Eastern Partnership program and that the project was perceived as a threat by the Russian government.[36][37]

In September 2015 Bildt visited Kiev, where he argued that the EU should provide more financial support to Ukraine.[38]

Reaction to Edward Snowden's Right Livelihood Award[edit]

About a week after it became known that Edward Snowden was going to be one of the recipients of the 2014 Right Livelihood Award, Bildt made sure that the organization was banned from the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, according to the public news broadcaster Sveriges Television which had been in touch with numerous involved people that didn't want to comment on the affair in public.

He later rejected the claims, stating that a re-categorization of the security level for the press room was the real reason. Because of this, the 2014 announcement ceremony became the first one in 18 years that was held in another location than the Ministry for Foreign Affairs.[39]

Internet activities[edit]

Bildt was an early pioneer among politicians of using the Internet for communicating. On 4 February 1994, he sent an email message to US president Bill Clinton, which was the first publicly known electronic message sent between two heads of government. In the message he praised Clinton's decision to end the trade embargo on Vietnam.[40] In the same year, he also started a weekly electronic newsletter which was active until 2005. He is an active blogger, starting his first blog in February 2005. His current blog, started in January 2007, is one of the most widely read political blogs in Sweden.[citation needed]

On 30 May 2007, he officially opened a "Swedish embassy" in the virtual world Second Life.[41] The embassy, called "Second House of Sweden", is a virtual replica of House of Sweden, the Swedish embassy building in Washington, D.C.. During Bildt's time as Foreign Minister, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has opened a channel on YouTube which has been active since early 2008. He maintains a personal Twitter feed in English with approximately 250,000 subscribed followers. As of 2014, Bildt has served as Chair of the Global Commission on Internet Governance.[42]

Advisor of Ukraine's President and Russian Group[edit]

On Mid May 2015 Bildt was appointed to Ukraine's International Advisory Council on Reforms .The group consisting of several foreign advisors to President Petro Poroshenko, aims to improve security and economy in the country which has been ravaged by armed conflict in its Eastern part.[43]

Carl Bildt has also been appointed as an advisor to Russian-controlled investment group LetterOne. The Luxembourg-based Group, led by Russian oligarch Mikhail Fridman, was founded in 2013 and specialises in the energy and technology sectors. Whereas Bildt is a vocal critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin and the country's involvement in the Ukraine conflict Fridman seeks distance to Russia's policy by contacts to prominent Western politicians. Fridman, the billionaire chairman of Russia's Alfa Group, said in a statement that Bildt's appointment is part of the company's efforts to build "a team of world-class advisers to contribute to our thinking and growth as an international business,"[44]



  • Bildt, Carl (1991). Hallänning, svensk, europé (in Swedish). Stockholm: Bonnier. ISBN 91-34-51204-7. 
  • Bildt, Carl (1994). Den enda vägen (in Swedish). Stockholm: Moderata samlingspartiet. ISBN 91-85816-09-4. 
  • Bildt, Carl (1997). Uppdrag fred (in Swedish). Stockholm: Norstedt. ISBN 91-1-300324-0. 


  1. ^ Bildt, Carl (7 September 2012). "Twitter". Retrieved 8 January 2013. Discussed EU future. I still believe that we must continue building federation of nation states. Necessary evolution to meet new challenges. 
  2. ^ Between 1990 and 1994, per capita income declined by approximately 10% as per this link
  3. ^ a b "Sweden's Foreign (Ethnic) Minister Carl Bildt renews old ties with Hillary Clinton". Asian Tribune. Retrieved 12 June 2012. 
  4. ^ a b "Persona non-grata". Retrieved 12 June 2012. 
  5. ^ "Sweden recognises the Republic of Kosovo" (Press release). Ministry for Foreign Affairs. 2008-03-04. Retrieved 2008-03-04. 
  6. ^ Kellberg, Christina (18 September 2006). "Berättelsen om Fredrik Reinfeldt". Dagens Nyheter (in Swedish). Retrieved 4 July 2009. 
  7. ^ Byström, Max (11 November 2014). "Bildt får nytt uppdrag" (in Swedish). Retrieved 17 December 2014. 
  8. ^ Nilsson, PM (11 January 2007). "Bildt måste gå". Expressen (in Swedish). 
  9. ^ Malm, Fredrik (15 January 2007). "Bildt måste byta politik eller avgå". Expressen (in Swedish). .
  10. ^ "Sudan, Oil, and Human Rights". Human Rights Watch. 2003. Retrieved 11 March 2012. 
  11. ^ "AP-fonder investerar i Vostok Nafta". Aftonbladet (in Swedish). 4 November 2006. .
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  13. ^ a b Ahlmark, Per (24 October 2006). "Du vet ju hur Carl är". Dagens Nyheter (in Swedish). Retrieved 28 March 2009. 
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  21. ^ "Georgia 'started unjustified war'". BBC News. 30 September 2009. 
  22. ^ "Kremlin told that move could backfire". Financial Times. 27 August 2008. 
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  24. ^ Stengård, Mikael (5 December 2010). "Bildt har satt på sig en för stor kostym". Aftonbladet (in Swedish). Retrieved 2011-07-12. 
  25. ^ "Playing East against West: The success of the Eastern Partnership depends on Ukraine". The Economist. 23 November 2013. 
  26. ^ Kälvemark, Torsten (6 March 2014). "Svoboda luktar fascism". Aftonbladet. Retrieved 9 March 2014. 
  27. ^ a b Croneman, Johan (4 March 2014). "Johan Croneman: SVT har inte haft en självständig utrikes-analytiker på flera decennier". Dagens Nyheter (in Swedish). Retrieved 9 March 2014. 
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  34. ^ "Bildt: Crimea referendum illegal". Sveriges Radio. 15 March 2014. Retrieved 15 March 2014. 
  35. ^ Mikael, Nyberg (30 March 2014). "Bildt, menar du allvar med folkrätten?". Aftonbladet (in Swedish). Retrieved 31 March 2014. 
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  39. ^ Jemsby, Carolina (24 September 2014). "SVT avslöjar: Alternativa nobelpriset portas från UD" (in Swedish). Sveriges Television. SVT. Retrieved 22 September 2015. 
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  41. ^ Simmons, Carl (30 May 2007). "Sweden opens virtual embassy 3D-style". 
  42. ^ Bildt profile,; accessed 22 September 2015.
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  45. ^
  46. ^ "UOK – Upplysning om kommunismen". Institute for Information on the Crimes of Communism. Retrieved 19 October 2009. 

External links[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by
Carl Cederschiöld
Chairperson of the Confederation of Conservative and Liberal Students
Succeeded by
Mats Svegfors
Preceded by
Ulf Adelsohn
Leader of the Moderate Party
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Bo Lundgren
Political offices
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Ingvar Carlsson
Prime Minister of Sweden
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Ingvar Carlsson
New office High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina
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Carlos Westendorp
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Jan Eliasson
Minister for Foreign Affairs
Succeeded by
Margot Wallström