Margot Wallström

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Margot Wallström
Margot Wahlstrom Sveriges EU-kommissionar.jpg
Wallström in 2006
Minister for Nordic Cooperation
Assumed office
25 May 2016
Prime Minister Stefan Löfven
Preceded by Kristina Persson
Deputy Prime Minister of Sweden
Acting
Assumed office
3 October 2014
Serving with Åsa Romson (2014-2016)
Isabella Lövin (2016- )
Prime Minister Stefan Löfven
Preceded by Jan Björklund
Minister for Foreign Affairs
Assumed office
3 October 2014
Prime Minister Stefan Löfven
Preceded by Carl Bildt
First Vice President of the European Commission
In office
22 November 2004 – 9 February 2010
(5 years, 79 days)
President José Manuel Barroso
Preceded by Loyola de Palacio
Succeeded by Catherine Ashton
European Commissioner for Institutional Relations and Communication Strategy
In office
22 November 2004 – 9 February 2010
(5 years, 79 days)
President José Manuel Barroso
Preceded by Position established
Succeeded by Maroš Šefčovič (Inter-Institutional Relations and Administration)
European Commissioner for the Environment
In office
13 September 1999 – 11 November 2004
(5 years, 59 days)
President Romano Prodi
Preceded by Ritt Bjerregaard
Succeeded by Stavros Dimas
Personal details
Born (1954-09-28) 28 September 1954 (age 62)
Skellefteå, Sweden
Political party Social Democrats
Spouse(s) Håkan Wallström
Children 2
Signature

Margot Elisabeth Wallström (Swedish pronunciation: [ˈmarːɡɔt ˈvalːˈstrœm]; born 28 September 1954)[1] is a Swedish Social Democratic politician and has served as the country's Minister for Foreign Affairs and Deputy Prime Minister since 3 October 2014.

Wallström previously served as European Commissioner for the Environment from 1999 to 2004 and as European Commissioner for Institutional Relations and Communication Strategy from 2004 to 2009. She was also the first of five vice-presidents of the 27-member Barroso Commission. After that, she worked as Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General (SRSG) on Sexual Violence in Conflict.[2]

Early life and career[edit]

Born in Skellefteå, Wallström is a high school graduate without academic degrees in 1973,[3] She started her career as banking clerk in Alfa Savings bank in Karlstad, where she worked from 1977 till 1979 and then briefly as accountant from 1986 to 1987. Wallström worked as the CEO of a regional Värmland TV network in Sweden from 1973 to 1974 and before taking up her appointment as EU Commissioner she was the executive vice-president of Worldview Global Media in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

Political career[edit]

Wallström has had a long career in politics in the Swedish parliament, the Swedish government, and the European Commission. At 25, she was elected to parliament.[4] She was Environment Commissioner from 1999 to 2004 and in the Swedish government she was Minister for Consumer Affairs, Women and Youth in 1988–1991, Minister for Culture in 1994–1996 and Minister for Social Affairs in 1996–1998.

European Commissioner for the Environment, 1999–2004[edit]

During her time in office, Wallström pushed the European Commission’s initial proposal for REACH, a regulation requiring manufacturers of industrial chemicals to test and register their products with the European Chemicals Agency before they can be used.[5] In 2004, she approved the importation of a genetically modified corn from the United States for animal feed after a six-year moratorium, arguing in a statement that the corn produced by biotechnology company Monsanto, known as NK603 maize, had been rigorously tested and was considered “as safe as any conventional maize.”[6]

First Vice-President of the European Commission, 2004–2010[edit]

In 2004, Wallström became the first member of the European Commission to operate a blog. The comments section of her site quickly became a hotspot for arguments concerning the policies of the European Union. After the rejection of the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe by French and Dutch voters, Wallström pushed forward her "plan D" (for democracy, dialogue and debate) to reconnect Citizens with the Union.[7] Her work on such platforms, including the backing of the oneseat.eu petition, has given her a good reputation in some quarters, even being dubbed "the Citizens Commissioner"[8] – but has earned her names like "the Propaganda Commissioner" as well from political opponents. The Economist listed her among the least effective commissioners in 2009.[9]

In 2006, Wallström presented her a plan to transform the EU’s Europe by Satellite (EbS) video-broadcast service into an EU news agency; the plan was scrapped after press organizations complained that it would undermine the work of reporters covering the EU.[10]

Following Sweden’s 2006 election, in which the Social Democratic Party lost power, former Prime Minister Göran Persson announced his withdrawal from politics in March 2007. Wallström was regarded as the favourite candidate to succeed Persson as Social Democratic party leader,[11] but made clear that she did not wish to be considered for the position.[12][13] The post instead went to Mona Sahlin.

Between 2006 and 2007, Wallström served as member of the Amato Group, a group of high-level European politicians unofficially working on rewriting the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe into what became known as the Treaty of Lisbon following its rejection by French and Dutch voters.

Immediately after the election of Mona Sahlin as party leader, Wallström accepted a membership in a group working to develop political strategies for the upcoming election to the European Parliament in 2009. The membership in this group was considered by Swedish liberal Carl B Hamilton (and later also Fredrik Reinfeldt) to constitute a breach of the oath every member of the European Commission gives, which states that any member of the commission should work for the community's best interest with no influence from politicians. European Commission spokespeople Mikolaj Dowgielewicz and Pia Ahrenkilde-Hansen stated that her new assignment was not in conflict with her commissioner position.[14][15]

In December 2006, Wallström was voted the most popular woman in Sweden, beating royals and athletes in a survey carried out by ICA-kuriren and Sifo. The previous year, 2005, she was second place. Wallström was modest in response stating that "it might be because I'm so far away".[16]

On 16 November 2007, Margot Wallström, became Chair of the Council of Women World Leaders Ministerial Initiative. This position was previously held by former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright.

United Nations Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, 2010–2012[edit]

On 31 January 2010, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, announced at the African Union summit in Ethiopia his intention to nominate Wallström as his first ever Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict.[17] As a reaction, Wallström said that she felt "honoured" and "humble" to have been chosen for the job,[18] which she started in April 2010.

In August 2010, Ban sent Wallström to the Democratic Republic of Congo to help investigate claims that rebel fighters raped more than 150 women and baby boys over four days within miles of a UN base in the country.[19] Wallström later addressed the United Nations Security Council in a September 2010 session on the use of sexual violence as a weapon by both rebel militias and government troops in the eastern provinces of the DRC. In her speech, she demonstrated that the rapes in the North Kivu and South Kivu provinces “were not an isolated incident but part of a broader pattern of widespread systematic rape and pillage.”[20]

On 18 September 2010, Wallström confirmed that when her assignment with the UN ends, in February 2012, she would become the chair of the University Board at Lund University in Sweden.[21]

Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sweden, 2014–present[edit]

On 3 October 2014, when the Social Democratic leader Stefan Löfven became Prime Minister, Wallström was appointed to the Swedish government as Minister of Foreign Affairs.[22]

On 30 October 2014, Wallström became the first EU foreign minister to recognise the State of Palestine, with a view to "facilitate a peace agreement by making the parties less unequal",[23] resulting in that Israel the very same day recalled its ambassador for consultations.[24] Although a visit by Wallström to Israel had been planned for January 2015, Israel's foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman and prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu declined to receive her.[25] Wallström's diplomatic immunity status in Israel was also revoked which meant that if she visited Israel she would do as an individual rather than an official of a foreign state, which would normally mean enjoying protection by security services.[25]

In December 2014, Wallström called in the Russian ambassador to Sweden, Victor Ivanovitj Tatarintsev, over the behaviour of a Russian military jet which Swedish authorities said had caused an SAS flight from Copenhagen to Poznan, Poland, to change course off southern Sweden; the incident inflamed sensitivities over Russian flights in the Nordic region, driven in part by tensions over separatism in eastern Ukraine.[26] On September 11, 2015, she again summoned Russia's ambassador to explain comments from the Russian foreign ministry warning of "consequences" if Sweden joins Nato.[27]

In January 2015, Wallström tweeted criticism of Saudi Arabia's flogging of human rights activist blogger Raif Badawi, calling it a "cruel attempt to silence modern forms of expression".[28]

In May 2015, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appointed Wallström as member of the High-Level Panel on Humanitarian Financing, an initiative aimed at preparing recommendations for the 2016 World Humanitarian Summit.[29]

One of Wallström’s main foreign policy goals was to secure one of the non-permanent seats for Sweden on the UN Security Council in the 2016 elections.,[30] and this was achieved on June 28, 2016.[31]

Political positions[edit]

Wallström "promised a 'feminist' foreign policy when her Social Democrats formed the coalition government" in October 2014.[32] She has criticized the lack of women's rights in Saudi Arabia.[33] The Spectator, the oldest continuously published magazine in the English language, wrote:

The Swedish foreign minister denounced the subjugation of women in Saudi Arabia. As the theocratic kingdom prevents women from travelling, conducting official business or marrying without the permission of male guardians, and as girls can be forced into child marriages where they are effectively raped by old men, she was telling no more than the truth.

On 10 March 2015 Sweden announced it would revoke a weapons export agreement with Saudi Arabia that had been in place since 2005.[34] Saudi Arabia retaliated by stopping visa issues for Swedish businesspeople, boycotting Wallström's speech from the Arab League, temporarily withdrawing their ambassador from Sweden,[35][36] and refusing to accept four Amazonian monkeys from a Swedish zoo.[37]

King Carl XVI Gustaf then offered to mediate with the Saudi king, and a fellow Social Democrat member of the government, Björn von Sydow, travelled to meet King Salman bin Abdul Aziz and Prince Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud, taking him private letters from the Swedish King and from Prime Minister Stefan Löfven. These have remained classified, but in a press conference on 28 March, Wallström said: "I am very pleased to announce that we can normalize our relations immediately, and that we are able to welcome the Saudi ambassador back to Sweden. It is deeply satisfying that we have been able to clear the misunderstanding that we insulted the world religion Islam."[38]

Controversies[edit]

European integration[edit]

In 2005, Wallström – in her capacity as EU Commissioner responsible for communications – came under pressure to justify her handling of a controversial speech that linked opposition to European integration with Nazi genocide, after it emerged she had changed the version published on the internet to remove the controversial passage. The original version of the speech, given to journalists ahead of Wallström's visit to Terezin in the Czech Republic to mark the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi concentration camp, suggested that scrapping the idea of a supranational Europe could put the continent back on the road to a holocaust.[39]

Ségolène Royal support[edit]

Also during her time as Vice-President, Wallström was criticized after she informally suggested support for Socialist candidate Ségolène Royal in the 2007 French presidential election on her blog, celebrating the fact that a woman got into the second round of the elections. She said: "J'étais si contente de voir qu'une femme participera au deuxième tour de l‘élection présidentielle!" (I was so happy to see that a woman would be participating in the second round of the presidential election!)[40] Commissioners are not meant to be politically biased in elections under their code of conduct.[41]

Israel[edit]

In the aftermath of the November 2015 Paris attacks in which more than 120 people were murdered, Wallström told Swedish television network SVT2 “To counteract the radicalization we must go back to the situation such as the one in the Middle East of which not the least the Palestinians see that, for us, there is no future: we must either accept a desperate situation or resort to violence”. Israeli government reacted angrily to Wallström’s linking the murders to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, summoning the Swedish ambassador and saying Wallström's statement bordered on anti-semitism and blood libel.[42]

On 12 January 2016, Wallström called for an investigation to check whether Israel was guilty of the extrajudicial killings of Palestinians during the recent wave of violence, causing further anger in the Israeli political establishment. The Foreign Ministry of Israel issued an official statement saying that Wallstrom's “irresponsible and delirious statements are giving support to terrorism and encouraging violence.”[43] This also caused further deterioration in Israel-Sweden relations, and Deputy Foreign Minister of Israel Tzipi Hotovely declared that Swedish politicians of the rank of deputy minister and above are not welcome in Israel.[44] International law expert Noah Feldman stated Wallström misunderstands international law, which does not apply in these cases.[45]

Although she has criticized Israel, Wallström opposes the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, supports Israel's right to defend itself, and is in favor of the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.[46] She expressed her condemnation of BDS during an "Israel day" conference held by the Jewish community in Sweden.[47]

Rented apartment[edit]

On 15 January 2016, Aftonbladet published information that Margot Wallström was one of the labour officials who rented apartment in Stockholm, owned by the Swedish Municipal Workers' Union, bypassing a wait of on average eight years like ordinary renters in Sweden. Wallström replied that she acted in good faith and received a confirmation from highest-ranking officials, that all norms and rules were followed.[48][49] Wallström accused the union's general secretary Annelie Nordström of not being truthful.[50] Anti corruption prosecutor has opened a criminal investigation about this affair. The prosecutor is checking whether Wallstrom's rent of Swedish Municipal Workers' Union apartment could be seen as bribery. If yes, she or Union's chairman Annelie Nordstrom could face a fine or imprisonment.[51] A formal corruption investigation of Wallstrom have been opened by Swedish police on 19 January.[52]

Turkish child sex tweet[edit]

On 24th of August 2016 Wallström tweeted that "Turkish decision to allow sex with children under 15 must be reversed. Children need more protection, not less, against violence, sex abuse.". This was after Constitutional Court of Turkey cancelled a constitutional provision that made all sexual activities with children under the age of 15 criminal as sexual abuse. Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu summoned Swedish ambassador for reprimand meeting and deputy prime minister Mehmet Simsek accused Wallström of being misinformed and acting without checking all facts. The original case was brought to a Constitutional Court of Turkey by a lower court that was afraid there is no legal discrimination between teenagers that may understand the meaning of sex and toddlers that do not understand it. [53][54]

Other activities[edit]

Recognition[edit]

Personal life[edit]

Wallström – a mother of two sons – has been married to her husband, Håkan, since 1984.[4] She lives in Stockholm and Värmland.[4]

Publications[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Address of Margot Wallström to the European Parliament conference on the Northern dimension europa.eu
  2. ^ "Stop Rape Now – Features". Retrieved 10 March 2015. 
  3. ^ "The Commissioners" (PDF). Retrieved 10 March 2015. 
  4. ^ a b c Annie Maccoby Berglof (September 24, 2015), Swedish minister Margot Wallstrom: shaking up the world with words Financial Times.
  5. ^ Elizabeth Becker and Jennifer Lee (May 8, 2003), Europe Plan on Chemicals Seen as Threat to U.S. Exports New York Times.
  6. ^ Elizabeth Becker (July 20, 2004), Europe Approves Genetically Modified Corn as Animal Feed New York Times.
  7. ^ Will Wallström's 'plan D' revive the European dream?[dead link] EurActiv.com
  8. ^ The European Parliament should work in Brussels Campaign for Parliament Reform 2006-09-18, Folkpartiet. Accessed 18 July 2007. Archived 29 September 2006 at the Wayback Machine.
  9. ^ "A commission report-card An end-of-term assessment of the Brussels team of commissioners". The Economist. 24 September 2009. Retrieved 14 February 2014. 
  10. ^ Constant Brand (July 28, 2010), Rethinking the EU’s media relations European Voice.
  11. ^ "Nyheter – DN.SE". DN.SE. Archived from the original on 20 February 2012. Retrieved 10 March 2015. 
  12. ^ No to leadership, DN (Swedish) Archived 1 October 2007 at the Wayback Machine.
  13. ^ Wallström: I don't want the job (The Local) (English) Archived 28 November 2009 at the Wayback Machine.
  14. ^ Wallström not breaking rules (English) Archived 23 March 2007 at the Wayback Machine.
  15. ^ Klartecken för Wallströms s-uppdrag (Swedish)
  16. ^ Sweden loves Reinfeldt and Wallström (The Local) (English) Archived 3 January 2007 at the Wayback Machine.
  17. ^ "Secretary-General Pledges United Nations Full Support 'to Build Peace and Prosperity for All Africans', in Remarks to African Union Summit". Retrieved 10 March 2015. 
  18. ^ Delegation of the European Union to the United States (31 January 2010). "Statement by Margot Wallstrom, Vice-President of the European Commission". Retrieved 10 March 2015. 
  19. ^ UN investigates claims of mass rape by DR Congo rebels BBC News, August 24, 2010.
  20. ^ Neil MacFarquhar (September 7, 2010), U.N. Officials Say 500 Were Victims of Congo Rapes New York Times.
  21. ^ "Wallström leder Lunds universitet". DN.SE. Archived from the original on 23 September 2010. Retrieved 10 March 2015. 
  22. ^ "24 ministrar i den nya regeringen". SvD.se. Retrieved 10 March 2015. 
  23. ^ Margot Wallström. "Sweden today decides to recognise the State of Palestine". Dagens Nyheter. Retrieved 30 October 2014. 
  24. ^ Israel recalls ambassador to Stockholm after Swedens decision to recognize Palestinian state, Jerusalem Post 30 October 2014
  25. ^ a b "Kraftig markering från Israels sida". Svenska Dagbladet. 15 January 2015. Retrieved 19 November 2015. 
  26. ^ Daniel Dickson (December 15, 2014), Nordic countries summon Russian ambassadors over military jet incident Reuters.
  27. ^ Sweden summons Russia ambassador after Nato threat BBC News, September 11, 2015.
  28. ^ Ahmed Tolba and Johan Ahlander (March 27, 2015), Saudi Arabia decides to restore ambassador to Sweden: Al Arabiya TV Reuters.
  29. ^ Secretary-General Appoints High-Level Panel on Humanitarian Financing United Nations Secretary-General, press release of 21 May 2015.
  30. ^ Richard Milne (March 30, 2015), Sweden’s ethical foreign policy runs into Saudi sands Financial Times.
  31. ^ Sweden, Kazakhstan Win Contested Security Council Elections Edith M. Lederer, Associated Press
  32. ^ Alistair Scrutton (16 March 2015). "Margot Wallström: Can Sweden's feminist foreign minister be both radical and influential - and make the country a 'moral great power'?". The Independent. Retrieved 23 January 2016. 
  33. ^ "Saudi Arabia Recalls Ambassador From Sweden as Rift Widens". AP. 11 March 2015. Retrieved 23 January 2016 – via The New York Times. 
  34. ^ "Clean hands, fewer friends". The Economist. 28 March 2015. Retrieved 23 January 2016. 
  35. ^ David Crouch. "Swedish frustration with Saudis over speech may jeopardise arms agreement". the Guardian. Retrieved 10 March 2015. 
  36. ^ Reuters Editorial (27 March 2015). "Saudi Arabia decides to restore ambassador to Sweden: Al Arabiya TV". Reuters. Retrieved 23 January 2016. 
  37. ^ "Saudis refuse Swedish zoo's monkeys in diplomatic spat". BBC News. 8 April 2015. 
  38. ^ Ingrid Carlqvist, Sweden's Walking Diplomatic Disaster dated 13 January 2016 at gatestoneinstitute.org, accessed 15 January 2016.
  39. ^ Raphael Minder (May 13, 2005), Commissioner under fire over 'Nazi' speech Financial Times.
  40. ^ Margot Wallström (23 April 2007). "L'élection présidentielle française". Archived from the original on 3 July 2007. 
  41. ^ "European Commissioner's Code of Conduct" (PDF). Retrieved 6 May 2007. 
  42. ^ Times of Israel (16 November 2015). "Israel slams Sweden for invoking Palestinian plight while discussing Paris attacks". Retrieved 16 November 2015. 
  43. ^ "Israel blasts Swedish FM for 'supporting terrorism, encouraging violence'". Retrieved 13 January 2016. 
  44. ^ Raphael Ahren and Tamar Pileggi. "Swedish officials unwelcome, deputy FM says". Retrieved 13 January 2016. 
  45. ^ Noah Feldman. "Sweden's Foreign Minister Misunderstands International Law". Retrieved 17 January 2016. 
  46. ^ "As Livni visits, Swedish FM says she is against BDS." Ynetnews. 13 March 2016.
  47. ^ Tal Shalev. "Wallstrom publicly declared support for Israel's right to defend itself and opposition to BDS movement.". i24news. Retrieved 16 March 2016. 
  48. ^ "Did top bosses get help jumping housing queue?". Retrieved 17 January 2016. 
  49. ^ "Wallström har fjärmat sig från verkligheten". Retrieved 17 January 2016. 
  50. ^ "Wallström: Jag har inget skämmas för". Aftonbladet. Retrieved 23 January 2016. 
  51. ^ Laurence Peter. "Sweden's Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom under fire - again". BBC News. Retrieved 24 January 2016. 
  52. ^ "Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström investigated over corruption claims". Retrieved 6 March 2016. 
  53. ^ "Turkey summons Swedish envoy over child sex tweet". Retrieved 6 September 2016. 
  54. ^ "Turkey's Constitutional Court stirs outrage by annulling child sex abuse clause". Retrieved 6 September 2016. 
  55. ^ Al Gore and the hot issues Archived 9 June 2007 at the Wayback Machine. Wallström's blog
  56. ^ Swedish: “Folkens Europa eller Varför är det så svårt att älska EU?” – ISBN 91-89660-54-4

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Ulf Lönnqvist
Minister of Civil Affairs
1988–1991
Post discountinued
Preceded by
Birgit Friggebo
Minister for Culture
1994–1996
Succeeded by
Marita Ulvskog
Preceded by
Ingela Thalén
Minister for Social Affairs
1996–1998
Succeeded by
Anders Sundström
Preceded by
Anita Gradin
Swedish European Commissioner
1999–2009
Succeeded by
Cecilia Malmström
Preceded by
Ritt Bjerregaard
European Commissioner for the Environment
1999–2004
Succeeded by
Stavros Dimas
Preceded by
Loyola de Palacio
First Vice President of the European Commission
2004–2009
Succeeded by
Catherine Ashton
New office European Commissioner for Institutional Relations and Communication Strategy
2004–2009
Succeeded by
Maroš Šefčovič
as European Commissioner for Inter-Institutional Relations and Administration
Preceded by
Carl Bildt
Minister for Foreign Affairs
2014–present
Incumbent
Order of precedence
Preceded by
Åsa Romson
Order of Precedence of Sweden Succeeded by
Kristina Persson

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