Tal av Peter Hultqvist på Munich Security Conference 2016, 13 februari 2016

“Between Reassurance and Reengagement? The Future of NATO”

Det talade ordet gäller.

Distinguished guests,

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak on this important topic. There are three points I would like to make:

First, it has been 723 days since the illegal annexation of Crimea occurred. Almost two years has passed and Crimea has not yet been returned to the sovereign state of Ukraine. The Russian aim is obviously to keep Crimea off the international agenda, let two more years pass or, for that matter ten years and hope that this will simply become a fact of life.

Let me be clear: the illegal annexation of Crimea cannot become a status quo. This cannot be written in our history books as something which just happened. Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea and the Russian involvement in eastern Ukraine is the greatest challenge to the European security order.

Russian actions are beyond an aggression on Ukraine. It constitutes a threat to the right of making national policy choices of all countries' in Russia's neighbourhood.

Therefore, it makes our response and our course of action all the more important. Time passes and other urgent security issues arise on our agenda. But we cannot accept what Russia has done.

Second, the tensions in the Baltic Sea region have increased during the last years. From the Russian side we see large scale military exercises and provocative behavior around our borders. Snap exercises in our vicinity have become a regular feature. From time to time we hear Russian officials with statements regarding nuclear capability. The question is why they continue to bring this up?

This is a concern for us. We are reinforcing our military capability and we are deepening our ties with partners from the platform of non-military alignment. The cooperation between Sweden and Finland builds on the intention that we will have the possibility to act together in case of crisis or war.

Sweden, as a Nato-partner, welcomes the increased defence measures taken by NATO in the Baltic Sea Region. NATO has a key role to ensure stability and to deter threats in the Baltic Sea. United States role in the Baltic Sea Region is of equal importance and has a clear threshold effect. We are welcoming the US ambition to increase its' presence in Europe.

Third, from our perspective, the future of regional peace and stability depends on keeping European unity. The EU, NATO and the US must stay united and defend our basic values. In order to meet challenges to European and global security, we need to stay together.

The many challenges we face in the European neighbourhood, and in Iraq and Syria, point towards long term destabilization. Sweden has been largely affected by the migration flows. We are the largest per capita receiver of refugees in the European Union. We need to tackle the causes of people fleeing.

The most urgent threat is Daesh. In the coalition we work together against Daesh – both militarily and with other means. It is our obligation to accelerate and intensify the military campaign in order to defeat this barbaric organization.

Only a united Europe ready to stand up for its values and principles, will be able to contribute to European peace and stability.

Thank you for listening.