The Nordic foreign ministers are meeting in Sandhamn in the Stockholm archipelago today. The meeting provides an opportunity for further discussions on Nordic cooperation, both in the UN and regarding ongoing Nordic participation in peacekeeping operations and Arctic issues.
On Monday, Ewa Björling presented the Global Swede award to 24 foreign students who have chosen to study at Swedish higher education institutions. Global Swede is a joint initiative between the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the Swedish Institute aimed at encouraging the students to become involved in the Global Swede alumni network and, in the longer term, act as ambassadors for Sweden. These foreign students have all distinguished themselves in areas related to innovation and entrepreneurship.
Foreign Minister Carl Bildt's tour of Asia continued last weekend from Almaty in Kazakhstan to Ulan Bator in Mongolia, where he participated in the Community of Democracies' Ministerial Conference being held in the city.
Mr Bildt also presented an award at the meeting, when the Community of Democracies awarded the Geremek Award to Burmese champion of democracy Aung San Suu Kyi. The award is named after Poland's former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bronislaw Geremek, and honours democracy activists working under difficult conditions.
Foreign ministers from NATO and the states participating in the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) met in Brussels on Tuesday to discuss long-term support to Afghanistan. Sweden was represented by Minister for Foreign Affairs Carl Bildt. Zalmai Rassoul, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan, also took part in the meeting. Mr Bildt highlighted three challenges in the coming year. The first and most important is to ensure that the presidential elections next year are conducted in a peaceful and fair way. The second challenge concerns the economy and cooperation in the region. The third involves the conditions necessary for a peace dialogue supported by all groups in Afghanistan.
Sweden is taking part in the Second Session of the Preparatory Committee within the framework of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT PrepCom) in Geneva on 22 April-3 May, ahead of the next NPT Review Conference in 2015. Since it was established in 1970, the NPT has been a cornerstone of international efforts on nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament, and the peaceful use of nuclear energy. One main priority is implementing the overarching NPT Action Plan that was adopted in 2010. An important premise in Sweden's view is that nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation are mutually reinforcing and that the prospects for progress are best when there is a broad approach that includes both of these aspects.
On Wednesday 17 April, Minister for Foreign Affairs Carl Bildt participated in the conference "Further EU Enlargement in South Eastern Europe - the road ahead", in the capital of Croatia, Zagreb. The conference was jointly organised by the Croatian Institute for Development and International Relations (IRMO) and the Swedish Institute of International Affairs.
EU responds to North Korea
The Swedish Embassy in Pyongyang submitted a joint EU response to the North Korean foreign ministry on Wednesday, which had inquired about wishes regarding any evacuation assistance in light of the current situation.
In its response, the EU states that North Korea's obligations under the Vienna Convention are to protect diplomatic missions and EU citizens. The EU does not share the threat assessment presented by North Korea, and does not consider that the current situation calls for an evacuation.
In its response, the EU also reminds North Korea of the country's international obligations under UN Security Council resolutions, i.e. not to produce or test nuclear weapons and missile technology. The EU calls on North Korea to engage constructively with the international community, disarm and improve the living conditions of the North Korean people.
The Swedish Embassy in Pyongyang represents the EU in North Korea.
Minister for Foreign Affairs Carl Bildt spoke on Tuesday at the 2013 Carnegie International Nuclear Policy Conference in the US capital Washington DC. He also had meetings with National Security Advisor Tom Donilon and others. Mr Bildt's speech at the conference was about the efficacy of international sanctions for international non-proliferation.
Dr Björling will receive a visit tomorrow from Russian Minister of Industry and Trade Denis Manturov. The ministers are meeting to discuss trade, economic developments and Russia's membership of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). Dr Björling will also host a business lunch with representatives of Swedish companies operating in Russia.
On 2 April Sweden, together with a large majority of countries in the UN General Assembly, voted in favour of an international Arms Trade Treaty (ATT).
"The adopted treaty is a major success for Sweden and the international community. For the first time we have a legally binding international agreement that sets standards for the international arms trade. These standards improve our prospects of reducing human suffering, which is one of the consequences of the illicit arms trade and trade that contravenes human rights and international humanitarian law," says Minister for Trade Ewa Björling.