Foreign relations of Sweden
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The foreign policy of Sweden is based on the premise that national security is best served by staying free of alliances in peacetime in order to remain a neutral country in the event of war. In 2002, Sweden revised its security doctrine. The security doctrine still states that "Sweden pursues a policy of non-participation in military alliances," but permits cooperation in response to threats against peace and security. The government also seeks to maintain Sweden's high standard of living. These two objectives require heavy expenditures for social welfare, defense spending at rates considered low by Western European standards (currently around 1.2% of GNP), and close attention to foreign trade opportunities and world economic cooperation.
Sweden has been a member of the United Nations since November 19, 1946, and participates actively in the activities of the organization, including as an elected member of the Security Council (1957–1958, 1975–1976, 1997–1998 and 2017–2018), providing Dag Hammarskjöld as the second elected Secretary-General of the UN, etc. The strong interest of the Swedish Government and people in international cooperation and peacemaking has been supplemented in the early 1980s by renewed attention to Nordic and European security questions.
After the then Prime Minister Ingvar Carlsson had submitted Sweden's application in July 1991 the negotiations began in February 1993. Finally, on January 1, 1995, Sweden became a member of the European Union. While some argued that it went against Sweden's historic policy of neutrality, where Sweden had not joined during the Cold War because it was seen as incompatible with neutrality, others viewed the move as a natural extension of the economic cooperation that had been going on since 1972 with the EU. Sweden addressed this controversy by reserving the right not to participate in any future EU defense alliance. In membership negotiations in 1993–1994, Sweden also had reserved the right to make the final decision on whether to join the third stage of the EMU "in light of continued developments." In a nationwide referendum in November 1994, 52.3 percent of participants voted in favour of EU membership. Voter turnout was high, 83.3 percent of the eligible voters voted. The main Swedish concerns included winning popular support for EU cooperation, EU enlargement, and strengthening the EU in areas such as economic growth, job promotion, and environmental issues.
In polls taken a few years after the referendum, many Swedes indicated that they were unhappy with Sweden's membership in the EU. However, after Sweden successfully hosted its first presidency of the EU in the first half of 2001, most Swedes today have a more positive attitude towards the EU. The government, with the support of the Center Party, decided in spring 1997 to remain outside of the EMU, at least until 2002. A referendum was held on September 14, 2003. The results were 55.9% for no, 42.0% yes and 2.1% giving no answer ("blank vote").
Swedish foreign policy has been the result of a wide consensus. Sweden cooperates closely with its Nordic neighbors, formally in economic and social matters through the Nordic Council of Ministers and informally in political matters through direct consultation.
Swedish neutrality and nonalignment policy in peacetime may partly explain how the country could stay out of wars since 1814. Swedish governments have not defined nonalignment as precluding outspoken positions in international affairs. Government leaders have favored national liberation movements that enjoy broad support among developing world countries, with notable attention to Africa. During the Cold War, Sweden was suspicious of the superpowers, which it saw as making decisions affecting small countries without always consulting those countries. With the end of the Cold War, that suspicion has lessened somewhat, although Sweden still chooses to remain nonaligned. Sweden has devoted particular attention to issues of disarmament, arms control, and nuclear nonproliferation and has contributed importantly to UN and other international peacekeeping efforts, including the NATO-led peacekeeping forces in the Balkans. It sat as an observer in the Western European Union from 1995 to 2011, but it is not an active member of NATO's Partnership for Peace and the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council.
Sweden's nonalignment policy has led it to serve as the protecting power for a number of nations who don't have formal diplomatic relations with each other for various reasons. It currently represents the United States, Canada, and several Western European nations in North Korea for consular matters. On several occasions when the United Kingdom broke off relations with Iran (including the 1979 Iranian Revolution, the Salman Rushdie affair, and the 2012 storming of the British embassy in Tehran), Sweden served as the protecting power for the UK.
Sweden has employed its military on numerous occasions since the end of the Cold War, from Bosnia and Congo to Afghanistan and Libya. According to one study, "this military activism is driven both by the Swedish internationalist tradition of "doing good" in the world, but also for instrumental purposes. These include a desire for political influence in international institutions, an interest in collective milieu shaping, and a concern to improve the interoperability and effectiveness of the Swedish military."
Participation in international organizations
|Region||Formal relations began||Notes|
|Burkina Faso||See Burkina Faso–Sweden relations
|Democratic Republic of the Congo||
|Ethiopia||See Ethiopia–Sweden relations
|Guinea-Bissau||1974||See Guinea-Bissau–Sweden relations
|Kenya||See Kenya–Sweden relations
|Namibia||See Namibia–Sweden relations
|South Africa||See South Africa-Sweden relations
|Tunisia||See Sweden–Tunisia relations
|Region||Formal relations began||Notes|
|Argentina||See Argentina–Sweden relations|
|Brazil||See Brazil–Sweden relations
|Canada||See Canada–Sweden relations
Relations with Canada are close, positive and constructive. Both countries have strong commitments to peacekeeping, UN reform, development assistance, environmental protection, sustainable development, and the promotion and protection of human rights. In addition, there are more than 300,000 Canadians of Swedish descent.
|Chile||1827||See Chile–Sweden relations|
|Colombia||11 December, 1874|
|Guyana||16 June 1975||
Both countries established diplomatic relations on June 16, 1975.
|Mexico||July 29, 1885||See Mexico–Sweden relations.
|Peru||See Peru–Sweden relations
|United States||See Sweden–United States relations.
Sweden and the United States have had strong ties since the 18th century.
|Uruguay||See Sweden–Uruguay relations
|Country||Formal relations began||Notes|
|China||See China–Sweden relations
In July 2019, the UN ambassadors from 22 nations, including Sweden, signed a joint letter to the UNHRC condemning China’s mistreatment of the Uyghurs as well as its mistreatment of other minority groups, urging the Chinese government to close the Xinjiang re-education camps.
|Georgia||19 September 1992||See Georgia–Sweden relations|
|India||See India–Sweden relations.|
|Indonesia||See Indonesia–Sweden relations.|
|Iran||See Iran–Sweden relations.|
|Iraq||See Iraq–Sweden relations.|
|Israel||See Israel–Sweden relations.|
|Malaysia||See Malaysia–Sweden relations.
Diplomatic relations were established in 1958. Sweden has an embassy in Kuala Lumpur, and Malaysia has an embassy in Stockholm. As of 2009, 90 Swedish companies are present in Malaysia and about 450 Swedish citizens live in Malaysia.
|North Korea||April 7, 1973||See North Korea–Sweden relations|
|South Korea||March 11, 1959||See South Korea–Sweden relations
The establishment of diplomatic relations between the Republic of Korea and Konungariket Sverige began on March 11, 1959.
|Turkey||See Sweden–Turkey relations.
Both countries are full members of the Council of Europe, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and the Union for the Mediterranean. Sweden supports Turkey's European Union membership. Sweden's Green Party has criticized France and Germany's opposition to Turkey's membership.
|Region||Formal relations began||Notes|
|Bulgaria||July 6, 1914||
|Cyprus||See Cyprus–Sweden relations
|Denmark||See Denmark–Sweden relations.
Today, both countries are separated by the Øresund, which links the Baltic Sea and the North Sea. Both countries are full members of the Council of the Baltic Sea States, of the Council of Europe, and of the European Union. There are around 21,000 Swedish people living in Denmark and there are around 42,000 Danish people living in Sweden.
|Estonia||See Estonia–Sweden relations.
Estonia was under Swedish occupation between 1561 and 1721. Sweden re-recognized Estonia on August 27, 1991.
|Finland||See Finland–Sweden relations.
Finnish–Swedish relations have a long history (Sweden and Finland was the same country for several hundred years), due to the close relationship between Finland and Sweden. Particularly in Finland, the issue emerges in frequent exposés of Finnish history, and in motives for governmental proposals and actions as reported in Finnish news broadcasts in English or other foreign languages. In Sweden, this relationship is a recurrent important theme of 20th-century history, although maybe by most Swedes considered to be an issue of purely historical relevance now that both countries have been members of the European Union since 1995.
|France||See France–Sweden relations.
|Germany||See Germany–Sweden relations
|Greece||See Greece–Sweden relations
|Hungary||See Hungary–Sweden relations
Diplomacy relations between the two countries started on December 28, 1945.
|Iceland||See Iceland–Sweden relations
|Italy||See Italy–Sweden relations
|Kosovo||See Kosovo–Sweden relations
Sweden recognized Kosovo on March 4, 2008. Liaison Office of Sweden in Pristina, subordinated to the Embassy in Skopje, North Macedonia. On March 8, 2008, the Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs Carl Bildt became the first foreign minister to officially visit Kosovo since it declared its independence. Sweden currently has 243 troops serving in Kosovo as peacekeepers in the NATO led Kosovo Force.
|Lithuania||See Lithuania–Sweden relations
|Moldova||See Moldova–Sweden relations
Sweden is one of Moldova's top donors. From 1996, Sweden provided Moldova with technical assistance worth 30 million dollars, which significantly helped strengthen sectors such as: protection of human rights, democracy, good governance, public health, education, agriculture, energy, infrastructure, transport and the private sector. Much of the aid is delivered through the Swedish International Development Agency. In 2007, the Swedish Government established the 2007–2010 strategy of cooperation with Moldova, which sees 11 million euros in financial assistance annually for three important sectors: good governance, strengthening of com petitiveness in the rural area and reduction of vulnerability in the energy sector.
|Norway||See Norway–Sweden relations
|Poland||See Poland–Sweden relations
|Romania||1 November, 1916|
|Russia||See Russia–Sweden relations.|
|Serbia||See Serbia–Sweden relations.
|Spain||See Spain–Sweden relations
|Ukraine||See Sweden–Ukraine relations.
A Ukrainian information bureau was opened 1916 in Stockholm by Volodymyr Stepankivskyi and M. Zaliznyak. In 1918 an official diplomatic mission from the Ukrainian People's Republic headed by K. Lossky was opened in Stockholm. Diplomatic relations between Ukraine and Sweden were established on January 13, 1992.
|United Kingdom||See Sweden–United Kingdom relations.
|Country||Formal relations began||Notes|
|Australia||See Australia–Sweden relations.
|New Zealand||See New Zealand–Sweden relations
- Politics of Sweden
- List of diplomatic missions in Sweden
- List of diplomatic missions of Sweden
- List of state visits made by King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden
- Scandinavian defense union
- Visa requirements for Swedish citizens
- Arctic policy of Sweden
- List of ambassadors of Sweden to Ukraine
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