With the move, Sweden follows Norway and Finland by initiating a national strategy for the Arctic region.
Carl Bildt surprised the Parliament in Stockholm on Wednesday when he announced that the Government will present a Swedish Arctic strategy in spring this year.
Presenting the Statement of Government Policy in the debate on Foreign Affairs, Bildt underlined that north of Sweden lies a challenge of growing importance.
- Arctic issues are becoming increasingly important for the international community, not least due to climate change. It is crucial for Sweden to protect the sensitive environment in the region, Carl Bildt said.
Read Carl Bildt’s Statement of Government Policy on Foeign Affairs (external link - pdf).
Sweden currently holds the chairmanship in the Barents Council, also a position where Bildt has said environmental issues are of most importance in the cooperation with Norway, Finland and Russia.
- In May, Sweden will be taking over the chairmanship of the Arctic Council and will thus have a key role to play coordinating this increasingly strategic area, Bildt said to the Parliament members.
The Norwegian Government presented their High North strategy in 2005, while Finland followed with their national Arctic strategy in 2010. Both Finland and Norway says it is crucial to develop the Barents Region and the Arctic in close cooperation with Russia.
See slideshow from Carl Bildt’s travel over the Kola Peninsula together with BarentsObserver.
Talking about Russia in today’s Parliamentary debate the Swedish Foreign Minister said it is in Europe’s interest that Russia develops into a full political and economic partner and operate under the rule of law with full respect for human rights and democracy.
Sweden traditionally expresses a more critical attitude than Norway in regards to the anti-democratic and military development in Russia.
Read also: Norway: No comment, Sweden: Effects must be discussed
Carl Bildt said Sweden will continue to push for a reduction in tactical nuclear weapons, which will contribute to stability and security, not least in Sweden’s own immediate vicinity. BarentsObserver has previously reported on Carl Bildt’s message to Russia to remove tactical nuclear weapons from the Kola Peninsula.
Read also: Carl Bildt: - Withdraw tactical nukes from Kola