In a SvD debate piece published online at the weekend, Foreign Minister Margot Wallström criticised Russia’s occupation and illegal annexation of Crimea, stating that the policies currently pursued by Moscow pose the most serious challenge to European peace since the Cold War.
“I am greatly concerned over development in Russia,” wrote Wallström, who wants to see a united Europe to meet the threat from Russia. “We must stand up for what is right in all our dealings with Russia and we should not allow the slightest provocation or insult,” she continued.
On Sunday, the Russian embassy in Stockholm responded to the criticism on Facebook.
“It is unfortunate that the article by the honourable minister in SvD’s online version of 6 March has a one-sided character. It lacks the most important thing – the cause that gave rise to the events in Ukraine. Namely, the West’s will – not least Sweden’s as the initiator of the EU’s Eastern Partnership – to push Kiev towards the European Union. The main tool proved to be a coup d’état, a violent shift of power, which pushed Ukraine into the abyss of civil war.
It is unclear as to who has written the post, which was also uploaded onto the embassy’s Twitter account. However, the post quickly spread among defence experts in social media.
“Russia’s attitude to Ukraine’s autonomy can not be more clearly illustrated,” tweeted defence critic Annika N Christensen.
Appearing before the Committee on Finance yesterday, Riksbank Governor Stefan Ingves tried to pour oil on troubled waters when he said a strong krona was unwelcome news in the current situation. Afterwards, he told the media that it would be helpful if the krona remained at current levels, in terms of bringing up inflation to the 2 per cent target.
Ingves also said the central bank was prepared to take further measures, although currency intervention was not his first choice.
IT Minister Mehmet Kaplan’s dream is that 90 per cent of Swedish households will have 100 Mbit/s access by 2020. Estimates suggest his plans could cost up to 40 billion kronor to realise.
In a move to reduce the cost, Kaplan proposes that broadband operators should be bound by law to open up their infrastructure to competitors wishing to expand in the same region.
Kaplan also proposes that the Swedish Post and Telecom Agency be given the powers to decide disputes regarding cables and land.
His plans will now be circulated for comment, after which the minister hopes the legislation will come into force on 1 July 2016.
The Silf/Swedbank Swedish Services Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) slipped to 56.7 in February from 57.9 in January, which had been expected. The business volumes sub-index rose while all other sub-indices fell.
Plans by the Swedish Post and Telecom Authority (PTS) to ensure telecom service providers provide continuity of service in the event of a power outage have infuriated the industry. TeliaSonera claims that back-up solutions would cost the operator hundreds of millions of kronor to put in place, while estimates suggest that Tele2 would have to invest half a billion kronor to provide such resilience.
Employer organisation the Swedish IT and Telecom Industries estimates the industry would need to invest two billion kronor in order to meet the criteria.
Late Tuesday evening, the airline Norwegian said it was cancelling all domestic flights in Sweden, Norway and Denmark because of the pilot strike. More than 35,000 passengers will be affected.
The airline has also cancelled all flights between the Scandinavian capitals. Some flights to European destinations may also be affected. Long-haul flights to the US and Thailand will operate as normal.
Norwegian has said it will lay off 800 flight attendants as of today, Wednesday.
The Swedish economy will grow at a faster pace than many have forecast, says the multinational investment banking firm Goldman Sachs, predicting “solid” economic growth of 2.9% this year and 3.6% in 2016. Falling oil prices and the sharp depreciation in the krona favour an industrialised, exporting country such as Sweden, argues the firm.
Ulf Kristersson, the Moderates’ spokesman on economic policy, is against the government’s plans to remove the budget surplus target of 1% over a business cycle, saying such a move would impair Sweden’s ability to pursue an active fiscal policy during a financial crisis. He also warns that a deficit could build up very quickly, if the target is abolished.
Swedish economists have welcomed the centre-left government’s plans to remove the country’s budget surplus target and replace it with a balanced budget target to free up money for important investments in education, infrastructure and the like. However, SEB chief economist Robert Bergvist warns that greater financial discipline will need to be imposed during such a transition, otherwise there is an overhanging risk of an operating deficit.
A 28-year-old Syrian man accused of crimes against international law has been sentenced to five years in jail, and is now only the third person ever in Sweden to be convicted of war crimes. “Overall we are pleased with the ruling. We find that the court has made the same judgment as we have,” says Hanna Lemoine, prosecutor, and described the case as one with several difficulties.
The critical evidence was a film of a brutal beating (see SPR 26 February, Midday Ed.) that took place in Syria in 2012 and was uploaded to social media. Hans Brun, researcher into terrorism at Kind’s College, now hopes that the ruling will have importance in the future. “Then the major problem is those who return to Sweden from war zones and who cannot be convicted. Parliament and the government must consider this issue appropriately.” [http://www.svd.se/nyheter/inrikes/fem-ars-fangelse- for-folkrattsbrott-i-syrien_4363965.svd Accessed 2015-02-27 08.53]