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Earlier this week, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said that, “This is the most dangerous situation in Europe that this generation has experienced”. We are currently at a breaking point after the Cold War and facing a new period of time of great uncertainty. In times like these, international cooperation and a strive for diplomatic solutions are vital in order to send a strong message without escalating situations further. Earlier today – during an event Mundus attended celebrating the Independence Day of Estonia – Sweden’s Minister for Defence, Peter Hultqvist, said that what we are seeing now is the new normal in terms of the security situation in Europe. Minister Hultqvist urged unity and preparedness in his speech aboard the Baltic Queen in the port of Stockholm.
Is the new world order going to culminate into a bilateral world order once again? And how will it affect smaller powers and their ability to make an impact in the world?
Carl Skau, Head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ UN unit, discussed these questions during the webinar “Why is the UN needed?” (Sw: Varför behövs FN?”) with the Swedish UN Association (Svenska FN-Förbundet) we attended this morning. Amongst other things, Ambassador Skau stated that, as a middle power, Sweden possesses an unique and edge-cutting position in the UN. Due to Sweden’s multilateral success, Sweden finds its strength in its ability to cooperate with both traditional countries in our immediate area, as well as non-traditional countries beyond our horizon e.g in Africa, Latin America and Asia. As a result, Sweden has become a highly trusted actor on the international arena, associated with a firm belief in the UN and allowed a fantastic opportunity to be involved, influence and set the map for what the world will look like in the future – an opportunity which Ambassador Skau finds himself privileged to be part of.
As one of the largest contributors to the UN, Sweden possesses a broad commitment to the UN and works actively to strengthen its capacity in various areas, with priorities in conflict prevention and peace promotion, as well as promotion of gender equality and women’s rights. Sweden’s contributions should be seen as an investment to strengthen its voice in these areas as they have become Sweden’s main tasks in the UN, Ambassador Skau underlined. So much so, that these are the areas in which he believes that Sweden finds its uniqueness vis a vis other nations. It is not a coincidence that former Prime Minister Stefan Löfvén has been asked to lead a UN high-level panel consisting of a number of senior leaders and other reasonably knowledgeable people from equal parts of the world.
Continuing the work of building bridges, advocating for international cooperation, humanitarian rights and equality is where Sweden finds its place in the world – regardless of the outcome of the breaking point.