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Speech by Ulf Kristersson

Speech by Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson at the Summit for Democracy 2024


Speech by Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson at the Summit for Democracy in Seoul, South Korea, 20 March 2024.

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Your Excellency, 
Dear friends,

Let me begin by expressing my sincere appreciation to the Republic of Korea and President Yoon for hosting this third Summit for Democracy and to Denmark for hosting this session. 

Democracies need to meet, we need to bond, and we need to rally for democracy. 

Our world is facing a new and dangerous reality. Authoritarian forces are challenging the rules-based world order, trying to establish the principle of ‘might is right’. This brings disastrous consequences. Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine continues to cause immense human suffering, while destabilising the European continent and beyond. 

Democracies are strong. And we know why. 

Democracies deliver more peace and stronger economies than autocratic countries. As elected governments, we must respond to our citizens’ needs, or be voted out. Accountability is the simple secret to the power of democracy. 

The past decades have brought large changes: globalisation, digitalisation, the climate crisis. Our citizens are right to demand better responses to these changes. Democracies need to continue to deliver for our citizens. 

The theme of this session, “Inclusive Society and Youth Empowerment”, is highly relevant for Sweden. From being a country of emigrants during the 19th century, Sweden became a destination for immigrants during last decade or so. Adapting has not always been easy. And integration is now a very big challenge for Sweden. We are battling social problems such as parallel societies, unemployment and different kinds of intolerance. 

Pledges made at previous Summits for Democracy were developed to deal with some of these challenges.

We have tasked government agencies to combat gender- and honour-based violence in support of women’s and girl’s rights. 

We have strengthened the dialogue with religious communities. And we are introducing education programs to help counter antisemitism. 

Constructing an inclusive society requires shared democratic norms, access to a common language and a social contract. Renewing our own democratic commitments at home is not enough. There is work to do globally.

Responding to global democratic challenges, Sweden has increased its support to human rights and democracy defenders, such as Belarusian democratic forces in exile. We are actively countering the pushback against gender equality, sexual and reproductive health and rights and the human rights of LGBTIQ persons. We are promoting and protecting internet and media freedom and joining efforts related to capacity-building to counter cyber threats. We will continue to support Ukraine’s fight for freedom and independence for as long as it takes.

Protecting democracy at home and abroad is vital to securing independence and freedom. But it cannot be done alone – building alliances among democracies remains a necessity, and today’s cross-regional dialogue is crucial. Let us continue to align our actions to achieve a more secure and democratic world – a shared responsibility based on shared values. 

Thank you!