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Prime Minister’s comments on Swedish Armed Forces analysis of intelligence operation in Stockholm archipelago
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Welcome to this press conference. This week, the Swedish Armed Forces have reported to the Government on the results of the intelligence operation conducted in the Stockholm archipelago just under a month ago.
The Government’s assessment is that the contents of the report should be made public as far as possible without compromising Swedish security interests.
This report, then, states that the Swedish Armed Forces, with the highest degree of certainty in its assessment, considers itself able to confirm that a violation of Swedish territorial waters occurred in October.
The report also states that it has not been possible to establish the nationality.
The Government considers this information extremely serious and also of course challenging.
The purpose of Sweden’s security policy is to protect our country’s territorial integrity and our national independence.
Securing the country’s borders is one of the absolutely foremost responsibilities of any government.
Needless to say, safeguarding our territorial integrity enjoys the broad and unquestioned support of the Swedish Riksdag. The proposals of the Defence Commission can also be seen from precisely this perspective.
Many hypotheses can no doubt be advanced, now that this report has been made public.
But as a government and as responsible politicians, we must act above all, and solely, on the basis of facts. And I do not hesitate to speak out with great seriousness in response to the report of violations of our territorial sea.
We do not know who is behind the reported violation. But let me say this, loud and clear, to those who are responsible:
This is completely unacceptable.
We will not have any foreign underwater activities in our waters.
We will strengthen our capability to detect and identify anyone engaged in unlawful business in Swedish territory.
We demand respect for Sweden’s borders.
The Government I lead has taken office at a time of increased tension, both globally and in our own neighbourhood. The threats to our security have multiplied and vary somewhat in nature.
On the African continent, a deadly virus is spreading. It has rapidly taken the lives of thousands of people, and its spread has so far proved impossible to stop.
Greenhouse gas emissions are occurring everywhere on the planet on such a scale that, if not stopped, they risk destroying the conditions for all human life on Earth.
In Syria and Iraq, IS terrorists are engaged in violence of unparalleled savageness, cruelty and ruthlessness. The fact that Swedish citizens are also participating in these atrocities adds to the tragedy. How their experiences will have marked them by the time they return home – if they return home – is also an important question.
In Ukraine, the Russian Federation has annexed Crimea in blatant contravention of international law, and in addition to this is providing shameless support to separatists in the eastern part of the country.
The security policy situation, in a broad sense, has clearly deteriorated. And the report that the Swedish Armed Forces have now delivered naturally does nothing to diminish fears for the future.
I do not – and let me stress this – want what I say to be understood to mean that any acute danger exists right now. Many forces are also moving to check these threats, and we in Sweden, as much as anyone, support and encourage them.
However, in my opinion, security policy issues, in a broad sense, need to be treated in a more coherent manner, at both international and national level.
Since 1945, as everyone knows, the United Nations Security Council has exercised an overarching responsibility for maintaining international peace and security. But seldom has the need to tackle the major threats to peace and security through joint action been so apparent.
In Sweden as elsewhere, there is reason to take a more concerted approach to security issues. A security policy council will therefore be set up at the Government Offices that will meet regularly to coordinate the management of issues relating to Sweden’s security. I myself will lead the council, which will also include the Deputy Prime Minister, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Minister for Defence, and the Minister for Home Affairs. Other ministers will also take part in the work of the council when necessary, as will certain state secretaries, as well as any government agencies that may sometimes be directly concerned.
We have a good tradition in our country of seeking broad consensus on security policy issues. As Prime Minister, the approach I will adopt and use will be to inform the parliamentary opposition about events that may affect our security. I will therefore initiate more regular information meetings with representatives of the parties represented in the Riksdag. In line with this ambition, this morning the Government informed the party leaders or their deputies about the report that has now been made public and the measures that the Government is taking.
It is very difficult to detect a subsurface vessel. The Swedish navy is not the only one to know this; it is a general experience over many decades.
Sweden has a coastline as long as the entire east coast of the United States. No naval force in the world can control such an area in a way that guarantees one hundred per cent that no unauthorised party finds its way in under water.
But what we can do is to increase the risk of detection.
Anyone considering entering Swedish territory unlawfully should also be aware of the enormous risks involved for those who may be directly involved in such violations. We will defend our territorial integrity with all the means at our disposal. And I would like to remind everyone that the Swedish Armed Forces have all the authority needed in a critical situation to prevent a foreign vessel from escaping, including as a last resort military force.
Sweden is a peaceful country. We do not belong to any military alliances and have managed to keep out of wars for 200 years. But we have always demanded respect for and asserted our territorial integrity. And I wish to say, in no uncertain terms, that this remains true today.