Tag Archive: Sweden

EU Arctic Aspirations Stonewalled Again

For the second time, the Arctic Council has deferred an EU application to become an observer on the multilateral Arctic forum. The Arctic Council was formally established through the Ottawa Declaration in 1996. The impetus behind the Council’s inception was the need for an intergovernmental  forum in which Arctic states could cooperate in matters mutually beneficial for the region.

The European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Maria Damanaki, has argued that the EU “has a stake in what happened in the Arctic”, and “is an Arctic actor by virtue of its three Arctic states, Denmark, Finland, and Sweden.” The EU has not shied away from speaking about its Arctic interests. In June 2012, the Commission proposed a three point Arctic policy, the most salient of which is the sustainable development of resources.

It is undeniable that the EU has a stake in the future of Arctic development. It is estimated over 90% of Europe’s oil production and 60% of its gas production comes from offshore operations occurring in the North Sea and Norwegian Sea. Moreover, an estimated 13% of the world’s undiscovered oil reserves and 30% of its undiscovered gas reserves are lying within the Arctic seabed. Additionally, proponents of EU accession have argued that climate change is a trans-boundary issue, and thus, will adversely impact European weather patterns and fish stocks.

There have been two primary arguments against the EU attaining permanent observer status in the Arctic Council. First, the Heritage Foundation has repeatedly asserted that the EU is a “supernational” organization and, therefore, does not meet the criteria to join the Arctic Council as an observer. Second, the Canadian government has opposed EU observer status since the EU submitted its first application in 2009.

Canadian opposition began in May 2009 when the European Parliament voted 550-49 to impose a seal trade ban throughout the European Union. A Canadian Inuit group challenged the ban, but the General Court of the EU dismissed the appeal. Additionally, similar challenges have been brought before the European Court of Justice, but they also resulted in dismissal. Consequently, this lack of success in the European courts inspired a Nunavut-based group to begin the “No Seal, No Deal” petition calling on the Canadian government to reject the EU’s application for full observer status.

This second argument may carry more weight with the Arctic Council than the former. Following the announcement of the EU’s deferral, Leona Aglukkaq, the new Canadian chair of the Arctic Council, pointed out that one of the criteria that observers must meet is to demonstrate respect for the traditional ways of life of the indigenous people of the North.

The EU’s interests in the Arctic are not disappearing any time soon. Recently, Italy joined EU member states: France, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, and the United Kingdom, as observers on the Arctic Council while Finland, Sweden, and Denmark all have permanent membership. Hopefully these EU Arctic actors will keep the EU’s best interest in mind until relations are able to thaw with Canada.

Swedish Peaceballs

As the member nations of the European Union join together in an effort to deter Iran’s nuclear program one member state stands against them.  The European Union governments’ sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program consisted of “new measures against Tehran’s banking sector, industry and shipping. The new sanctions mark one of the toughest pushes against Iran by Europe to date, and come amid mounting concerns over the Islamic Republic’s military intentions and the failure of diplomacy to solve the atom stand-off this year.”  The EU has emphasized diplomacy to soothe Iran into discontinuing their nuclear program but there has been a concerning lack of cooperation on Iran’s behalf. German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said, “In the last couple of months Iran has not budged on any of the key issues and we must therefore increase the pressure through sanctions”.  Why then does Sweden oppose the majority?

According to one source, three main players in the EU, Germany, France, and Great Britain, are upset with Sweden.  One German diplomat stated that Sweden’s actions are “embarrassing, absurd and illogical foot-dragging.”  Sweden’s Foreign Minister Carl Bildt claims that their actions are to champion diplomacy over sanctions.  Are the Swedes concerned that the economic sanctions would hurt the people of Iran or the termination of lucrative contracts consisting between the two nations?  This speculation that Sweden’s economic interest is not without merit but is again only speculation.  It is not certain why Sweden is against the sanctions.  Does Sweden have the legal ability under the EU law to continue their economic ventures with Iran if the sanctions pass?

Article 11 of the Treaty on European Union defines the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), which govern sanctions.  The EU is allowed to sanction Iran according to Article 11 “to preserve peace and strengthen international security…, and to promote international cooperation.”  Sweden, as a member state, has to comply with the sanctions enacted by the EU due to the loyalty clause under Article 11(2).  This states that Sweden has to “support the CFSP actively and unreservedly; refrain from any action which is contrary to the interests of the Union or is likely to impair its effectiveness in international relations; work together to enhance and develop their mutual political solidarity.”

The Swedes are unhappy about the sanctions that the EU might enact upon Iran, but if they are enacted they’ll have to abide by them.

Britain retracts threat to seize Assange

In a turn of events, Ecuador’s government officially received a statement from the UK government that the British officers will not enter the Ecuador embassy in London to seize Julian Assange.

Julian Assange was born on July 3, 1971, in Australia. Assange was born with a genius IQ and spent his childhood traveling with his parents. Assange’s knack for computers began around age sixteen. Since then, Assagne has charged with thirty plus counts of hacking in Australia including breaking into the master terminal for Nortel. Assange studied mathematics and the University of Melbourne, but he dropped out. Assange is internationally known for his creation of Wikileaks, which was launched in Sweden in 2007. In 2010, Assange became under investigation for a sexual assault case in Sweden. Assagne turned himself into London police after Sweden issued a European Arrest Warrant. Assange is still on conditional bail.

WikiLeaks is a website used to collect and distribute confidential information. It is a non-profit site run by volunteers. It is used to oust the wrongdoings of governments and corporations. For example, Wikileaks released a U.S. military manual that included information on the Guantanamo detention center and it shared emails from Sarah Palin in September 2008.

Assange is wanted in Sweden for questioning about sexual assault and rape allegations. Ecuador gave asylum, protection from danger, to Assange and he has been in the Ecuador embassy for over two (2) months.

Rafael Correa, the President of Ecuador, and the Ecuador government was enraged after the UK threatened to remove Assange from the Ecuador embassy, a while back, and Correa labeled Britain’s threat as a “grave diplomatic error”. Correa warned that the UK’s threat could set a dangerous precedent. The UK said that it threatened to forcefully enter the Ecuador embassy because it was legally inclined to extradite Assange to Sweden.

The Ecuador government said that it is not trying to help Assange avoid justice. With written guarantees from the UK and Sweden that Assange will not be extradited to a third world country, Ecuador said that Assange would turn himself over to the UK.

Assange and Correa fear that if Assange is handed over to Sweden he would then be extradited to the United States to face WikiLeaks’ 2010 publication of secret US cables charges. But, the U.S. has not issued any charges against Assange and do not plan to extradite him.

The UK’s retracted threat is a step toward a better political relationship between Ecuador and the UK. “The latest move should improve relations between Quito and London and allow more talks on Assange’s fate to take place,” said a Rueters’ reporter while in Quito. More discussions on Assange’s fate are expected to follow the retraction. The British Foreign Office said, “We believe that our two countries should be able to find a diplomatic solution.” The retracted threat will hopefully create a more peaceful and amicable relationship between Ecuador and the UK. In return, other countries, especially The U.S. and Sweden, will not be forced to choose sides, which will keep international peace. Extradition laws between countries are based on treaties between nations. The UK has repeatedly related that it has a legal duty to return Assange to Sweden. The UK not returning Assange in a reasonable time period may affect Britain and Sweden’s relationship. But, the UK and Ecuador officials are still trying to compromise.

Sweden has not officially charged Assange. Sweden needs Assange for questioning. Sweden issued an European Arrest Warrant, which once issued, requires a member state to arrest a suspect a send the suspect to the ember state that issued the warrant. All member states of the EU are required to respond to a European Arrest Warrant. Ecuador gave asylum to Assange in August, 2012. While it is lawful for Sweden officials to question Assange in the UK and Assange agreed to it, Sweden officials said that in this case they need to question Assange in Sweden. “”The preliminary investigation is at an advanced stage and I consider that is necessary to interrogate Assange, in person, regarding the evidence in respect of the serious allegations made against him,” Swedish Director of Prosecutions Marianne Ny wrote. If Assange is extradited he will be detained once he enters Sweden.

As of now, Assange is still holed up in the Ecuador embassy, which is surrounded by British police. At the right moment the UK will send Assange to Sweden.

The Organization of American States criticized Britain’s threat, and South American foreign ministers strongly backed Correa.



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