Sweden seeks to block tough EU Iran sanctions
Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt has long championed diplomacy over sanctions as the method to deal with Iran and Syria.
Iranian handles money at bazaar Photo: REUTERS
The Swedish government tossed a wrench into the EU process to impose a set of
robust new sanctions on Iran in order to protect a business deal between Swedish
telecommunications giant Ericsson and Tehran.
Haaretz reported on Sunday
that an Israeli Foreign Ministry diplomat said, “We know that in Sweden they
fear that if the deal between Ericsson and Iran is canceled this could have
implications for the company’s other deals. The Swedes fear that other countries
with problematic human rights records such as China will hear about the
cancellation and worry about their ties with Ericsson.”
Union is slated on Monday to pass a new package of gas, financial and shipping
Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt has long championed
diplomacy over sanctions as the method to deal with Iran and Syria. Earlier this
year he went to great lengths to prevent the EU from forcing Ericsson to pull
the plug on its contracts with Syria’s regime.
According to Haaretz,
Israeli diplomats, citing their European diplomatic counterparts, questioned
whether Bildt had “personal interests” in Iran that were impeding his capacity
to move forward with sanctions.
The Foreign Ministry official told
Haaretz that some European governments were extremely upset with the Swedes. The
major powers in Western Europe – Germany, France and the United Kingdom – were
named. The paper noted that a top-level German diplomat told an Israeli diplomat
that Sweden’s conduct consists of “embarrassing, absurd and illogical
The regimes in both Tehran and Damascus have used Western
communications technology to suppress pro-democracy movements.
German-Finnish company Siemens-Nokia provided surveillance equipment to Iran
that was used to disrupt and monitor the communication of proreform
demonstrators in 2009.
Bildt rejected the contention in March that he
sought to protect Sweden’s economic interests at the expense of human rights,
terming his critics “ignorant.”
Reuters cited diplomats who noted that it
was “very unusual for Sweden, known as a staunch defender of human rights, to
block sanctions, or for one member state to act alone to do so.”