Prime Minister of Sweden

Speech made to the Assembly

Wednesday, 28 June 1995

If you feel sorry for me on account of my leg, consider that for a minute before you play tennis the next time. Thank you for your kind personal words, Mr President.

The Council of Europe is the child of the great visionaries of the post-war period. They wanted to build on the positive heritage of European civilisation – political democracy, the ideas of freedom, equality and solidarity, and a diverse cultural heritage.

Countless politicians, government officials and citizens have contributed to the achievements of the Council. The European Convention on Human Rights sets a high standard. The work to build and consolidate democracy and respect for human rights continues each day in this house and all over the continent. We eagerly await the inclusion of new members in the community of the Council.

Bernardo Bertolucci’s epic five-hour movie “1900” starts with the birth of two boys in the first year of the century. One, played by Robert de Niro, is Alfredo Berlinghieri, the son of an affluent landlord. The other, played by Gerard Depardieu, is Olmo Dalco, the son of a destitute farm worker. The movie is, like this century, a tale of fascism, war, social progress, tractors substituting for horses, and of two men outgrowing their predetermined characters. It is a story of the powerless at last organising themselves – of the old order crumbling.

As politicians we are not movie-makers. We neither create nor recreate reality. We influence it by laws, we shape it by economic decisions and we help to define it by our part in the public debate. In these times we help to lay the foundations of European society in the next century. Let us picture two imaginary children born in the year 2000. The question we should ask is: how may we help to set a stage on which they can make the most of their lives? It is within our reach to establish a common democracy in Europe. It is the tale of two cities: Sarajevo and Maastricht. Sarajevo is the scenario of disintegration; Maastricht is a commitment to integration and democratic order.

We must choose Maastricht over Sarajevo, political integration over ethnic disintegration. We must enlarge the European Union. We must start full membership negotiations as soon as possible with the Visegrad and the Baltic states and the other applicant countries. We who are members must undertake big and necessary changes to make enlargement possible. We must be ready to take on vested interests in the present order – farmers who lose subsidies for overproduction, local governments that count on regional subsidy, politicians whose seats are needed to make way for representatives from Hungary, Poland, Latvia, or Estonia. We must prepare a decision-making process that will be efficient, possibly with twice as many members, or more, as now.

The applicant countries have their preparations to make. Sweden has recently gone through the process of harmonisation. We are willing to offer technical assistance and advice to the candidates.

When I speak today about the future of Europe, including the challenges to the European Union, it is in a spirit of Sweden’s firm and active commitment to the enlargement of that union. It should be truly European, with a truly European Council, Commission and Parliament – not just a west European Council of Europe, European Commission and European Parliament.

Together we must create a democracy at European level deserving the confidence and interest of our citizens. The concerns of daily life – work, a good environment, consumer protection, personal security against crime, workers’ rights – need as forceful a decision-making process as the grand schemes and symbols of the common projects. The Europe of the people needs just as close attention as the Europe of money. It is within our reach to place the economy at the service of the people, rather than the people at the service of the economy.

Debts, deficits and dependence on the dole are plaguing European economies. Financial markets have been given a say in politics as a result of public dependence on money lending. If that is not drastically remedied, the election campaigns of tomorrow will be not about future choices but about a choice of cuts in public spending.

Despite these dark clouds I believe in a good future climate for the European economy. There has been talk of the end of history; judging from their apathy faced with mass unemployment, some people seem to believe in the end of economic development. Are there no more needs to be met? Are there no more people capable and willing to work?

I accuse leaders who have given up fighting mass unemployment of restricted vision. They must be blind to the growing economies of the future; to the dramatic change in the information society; to the social needs of the elderly and the need for better education and better medical care; to the enormous economic potential of a unification of East and West. These people do not see the budding economic sectors for younger generations, such as the music industry. They are blind to the pressing need to rebuild Europe into an ecologically sustainable society. They are blind to the possibilities of global free trade.

The problem is not so much jobless growth as growthless joblessness. We can choose to give the economy of the future the framework that it needs through budgetary discipline, currency stability by making standards for employment policies, training and ecology as high as those for monetary convergence and by a long-term commitment to increasing gradually taxation on production and consumption, which are not compatible with sustainable development.

We can choose to put a strategy of common growth into practice. The Commission’s White Book, the reports of the party of European Socialists; the proposals, the starters, are there for the asking. We must not let this opportunity slip away. These years must not be remembered as the years when everybody talked about unemployment, but not enough leaders had the clout to choose change. Business as usual in a period of rapid transition soon means going out of business.

We can choose to turn public consumption into investment. Money that is now used for unemployment benefits, for subsidies of declining sectors and for military capacity dimensioned for the cold war could increasingly be used to put people to work. Certainly, there can be no worse economic wisdom than unemployment. Nothing can be more expensive than social tensions and public debt, with unemployment and crime rates all rising at the same time.

Traditionally, the left in politics has been concerned with demand; the right with supply. The left has focused on business cycles; the right on structural change. The left has discussed employment and labour; the right, companies and profits.

If we want to prevent the next generation from being worse off than their parents, it is time to come out of these trenches. We need a new economic strategy, a common strategy for growth and employment to build a sustainable and fair society. We need to explore fully the potential of common European action. By the next down-turn, we could take common action to keep demand up, to stimulate investment and production, and do together what is no longer possible for one nation alone. Together we can again be as bold and active as Keynes showed we could be one by one in earlier days.

If we take on those challenges, it will be in our grasp to cut unemployment in half within the next decade, and to give young people the greatest opportunity of all – a good and decently paid job.

It is within our reach to establish a true citizenship based on fundamental human rights and central to the mandate of the Council of Europe. Those who are not convinced by ethics could consider economics. Whenever someone is excluded from a job due to sex, race, colour, creed or sexual preferences someone with fewer qualifications, skills, energy and enthusiasm does the work instead.

Today, men and women, both immigrants and nationals who live in the same country have very different experiences. Therefore, mixed workplaces contain more comprehensive competencies, and therefore the question is not whether Europe can afford equality and equal opportunity but whether it can afford sexism and racism.

Let me draw a historic parallel. Ancient Athens is considered the cradle of democracy, yet voting was very limited – to males, adults, free men. We look at our economy as advanced, but we have only just begun to offer openings, equal opportunity and equal pay. The careers, the high wages, are still truly open only to a minority of the population: if you are a man; if you are old enough to have made enough contacts; if you were born of someone who could afford your education; or if you are not an immigrant or of dark complexion.

Human rights are a question of being measured and seen, not because you were born a man or a woman, but by your personal qualities; not because of the colour of one’s skin, but by the sharpness of one’s mind; not by one’s religion or ethnic background, but by the warmth of one’s heart.

There is talk of a clash between the Christian and Muslim civilisation. As the Euro-Islam conference in Stockholm, one participant said: “There can’t be a clash between civilisations. Civilisations don’t clash. If they clash, they ‘are not civilised.”

Mahatma Gandhi was once asked what he thought of western civilisation. His answer was: “It would be a good idea”. And it certainly would.

It is within our reach to give Europe a global identity of which to be proud. To develop a new European global identity is a great privilege. We can choose to make that common identity greater and more radical than the sum of its national parts. It can be free of its historical heart of darkness.

Already, the European Union is the partner with the largest development co-operation, but while giving with one hand, the other hand defends an old economic world order. The European Union is the largest market in the industrialised world. It should be the champion of free trade. Social and ecological standards and cultural identity must be developed, but not as an excuse for general trade barriers. That is not accepted inside the European Union. It should be unacceptable around the European Union.

Europe should be a partner to the rest of the world, especially to the Third World, in the search for a new, just and democratic order, promoting common growth and development, a global governance, and a common security.

Just a few years ago recent progress in disarmament would have been unthinkable. Sweden was shocked therefore by a recent decision by a European Union member – France – to resume nuclear testing. We deeply deplore this decision. Future generations should be able to count on our commitment to peace and nuclear disarmament. Europe should not set a bad example to others by turning back to the road to nuclear terror.

Security is no longer solely an issue of military threats. It should no longer be restricted to states, but extended to peoples and individuals. As in previous post-war periods, the norms, institutions and instruments, will have to adapt to the new realities after the cold war. The vision of common security – to replace a terrifying security system with a transparent, co-operative, confidence-building and conceptually broadened security system — is today within our grasp to make a reality.

The Council of Europe is a crucial partner in including democracy, human rights and the rule of law into norms of security, in integrating the social and human dimensions into the conflict prevention and resolution mechanisms, in opening member states to a co-operative intervention by multilateral instruments and in addressing security concerns of people and situations that might spill over to conflicts between states.

The common and foreign security policy of the European Union must have better common resources for analysis and initiative. I propose a European Union permanent task force for early warning, including expertise on conflict resolution. It should work closely with the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe. A Europe immunised against war by institutions and co-operation – settling conflicts by the rule of law rather than by the rule of force – is within our grasp.

I have focused on what is possible; more on what ought to happen than on when it should happen. I wanted to start not with a calendar and a mechanism, but with a map and a picture. The more that can be accomplished in the intergovernmental conference of the European Union, the better. I do not expect enormous revisions, because Maastricht has not been put to the test or pressed to its limits. With true leadership and political will, the current treaty essentially provides a good legal framework, but it needs to be improved in some areas.

I have high hopes, however, that the public debate will focus on what Europe we want. Above all, public debate requires public knowledge about what is going on. Any common effort must be open and transparent, and decision-making must be clear and open to discussion. But what will the citizens see? I hope that they will see leaders concerned with the concerns of many, not with the grandiose designs of a few.

Europe cannot afford to lose momentum. The conflict between federalism and confederalism can largely be solved by a political division of labour. Powerful common institutions – yes, federal – such as the European Commission and the Parliament are needed to initiate processes and legislation; yet decision-making must be deeply rooted in the nations.

I therefore believe in an increased right of initiative for the Commission and the Parliament. I have noticed that Parliament itself speaks of co-decision rather than initiative, but let us keep this idea on the agenda.

I believe that national involvement in decision-making should increase, with national parliaments taking a greater part.

The change in the Council is not in its voting balance, but in its transparency to the citizens. In the far distance when Europe has a common political debate, beyond the language difficulties, with common political parties, the need for national ties will diminish; but as long as that is not the case, it is not up to the small countries to accept no representation but up to the big countries to reduce theirs.

Europe cannot afford to lose itself in endless debates on the theological exegesis of subsidiarity and sovereignty. The greatest challenge to democratic influence in Bonn, Lisbon and Stockholm comes not from Brussels and Strasbourg, but from supranational forces with no geographical identity. We need more of Europe, not less; more co-operation, not less; more politics, not less; more political leadership committed to a vision of the true potential of this magnificent continent.

In essence, it is within our reach to set a stage, and lay the foundations that will make it possible for the newly born of the new century to make much more of their lives than Alfredo Berlinghieri or Olmo Dalco ever did – more than we have ever managed in the twentieth century. It is up to us to look not only to the next elections, but to the next century: to care not only for those who elected us, but for the coming generations.


Thank you very much, Mr Carlsson, for your inspiring and moving statement. A number of members of the Assembly have expressed a wish to put questions to you. I remind them that questions should be limited to thirty seconds. Colleagues should ask questions rather than make speeches. Knowing the Prime Minister as I do, however, I have a feeling that even if a number of questions are asked he will be able to answer them briefly and colleagues will be able to put supplementary questions.

I call Mr Muehlemann, to put the first question.

Mr MUEHLEMANN (Switzerland)

Prime Minister, you have made a moving statement in support of Europe, which will attempt to develop further in 1996. The aim of the intergovernmental conference is to achieve more efficiency and more democracy, but I fail to see any mention of the idea of the Europe of the regions and of more federalism to delegate powers to the lower levels of government. What, Prime Minister, are your main points of emphasis?

Mr Carlsson, Prime Minister of Sweden

We want to enlarge the European Union and thereby create a common democracy in Europe. We want to focus attention on the concerns of citizens, such as employment, the environment, social rights and equality between men and women. We want to make the Union a radical, progressive force in world politics, and to strive for peace. That will make it necessary to deal with the institutions.

Mr GROSS (Switzerland) (translation)

Thank you, Mr President. Prime Minister, there are a large number of indications that it was especially your critical reform ideas that convinced the Swedes of the necessity to join the European Union. As a Swiss national I am therefore particularly interested in these ideas. In your speech you spoke about a “common democracy for Europe.” How do you view the necessity of a European constitution for this common democracy that goes beyond the treaty establishing the European Union, and, in the light of the process to review Maastricht, what possibilities do you see of bringing such ideas on a European constitution into the discussion?

Mr Carlsson, Prime Minister of Sweden

I believe that, when a majority in Sweden opted for membership of the Union, the decisive influence was the fact that we thought that we would have a better chance of solving the daily problems of our people if we were able to have a say, and to participate in discussions. I personally believe that we shall not be able to attack unemployment in Europe efficiently if there is no co-operation over national borders. We could deal with unemployment; indeed, we dealt with it for many years, achieving an unemployment rate of 2% or 2,5%. Now, however, when market forces are moving very rapidly over national borders, political co-operation is needed to deal with the recession actively and offensively.

In that context, I see the European Union as a new possibility and I am glad that Sweden does too. We must be flexible and be prepared to change the institutions, not least if a larger number of members is proposed. We have to discuss the issue on a broad basis and get people involved in the institutional debate. I do not think that the Swedes mind institutional changes in the long run, if it leads to creating a better life for people, but beginning with a debate on institutions and not reaching problems in daily lives makes it very difficult to convince people of the importance of European co-operation.

The European Union has to prove itself to the people – give not only passive support but some enthusiasm. In that respect, we as politicians have something to learn from the past ten years. Let us do that together.

Mr SINKA (Latvia)

I thank the Swedish premier for his support of the Baltic states’ quest for full membership of the European Union, but on security I have the following question: has the present Social Democratic Government of Sweden modified its policy towards Latvia and the other Baltic states since Mr Bildt’s government made its statement concerning the security of the Baltic states and assured Sweden’s commitment to the cause of preservation of sovereignty among the Baltic states?

Mr Carlsson, Prime Minister of Sweden

Yes, as you probably know I visited the three Baltic states in the spring. I went to Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania and I have had a chance to speak directly to the people of the Baltic states and their elected political representatives about the subject to which you refer. I shall repeat what I said during my visits to those countries. It is true that Sweden is a militarily non-aligned country, but that does not mean that we would be indifferent or pose any kind of threat to the Baltic states.

There are a number of ways in which we can support the Baltic states. First, as you have seen today, we can support their democracies, their democratic development and their aspirations to become members of the European Union. We could use our membership of the European Union, the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe and the United Nations. Therefore, I can assure you and the people of your country that, with the support of the Swedish Government, Parliament and people, we shall continue a policy of solidarity. The fact that Sweden is militarily non-aligned will not change anything in that respect.

Mr SINKA (Latvia)

I am most grateful to Mr Carlsson for his reply.

Mr GRICIUS (Lithuania)

I shall ask a similar, but more wide-ranging, question. During the cold war, the Baltic sea divided into two military and political blocs. Sweden was mainly neutral during that period of confrontation. How does the Swedish Government perceive Swedish neutrality in the changing Europe? How do you propose to help to create a more stable Baltic sea region, taking into account the Baltic states and the Keliningrad district?

Mr Carlsson, Prime Minister of Sweden

In Sweden, we strongly believe in co-operation in the Baltic sea region, and for different reasons. First, we have the responsibility for our common sea, from an environmental point of view for future generations, and we must take seriously any such threats against the Baltic sea. Secondly, given the whole question of infrastructure in the area, we have responsibilities for economic co-operation. It is extremely important that, during the intervening period when countries such as Poland and the Baltic states are applying for membership in the European Union, we make use of pragmatic co-operation in the region. As you mentioned, there is also the security aspect. Therefore, I am extremely interested in bringing Russia into that co-operation. In that way, we would bring our people closer together by working in a pragmatic way.

The fact that Sweden, in the post-war period, has been neutral does not prevent us in any way from being active and working for common security. On the contrary, our experience at global and European levels has shown that it was possible to do much work during the cold war. Today, with the Berlin wall having been tom down and with a new policy of membership in the European Union and with the OSCE process and a number of other possibilities, we are determined to work for common security. As you mentioned, the Baltic sea region is an excellent opportunity for such co-operation.

During my visit to Latvia, I invited all the Prime Ministers of the countries of the Baltic sea area to a summit in Gotland, in the middle of the Baltic sea region, in May of next year. I hope that that will exert extra pressure to prepare answers to the question of security and other points in your question.

Mr IWINSKI (Poland)

I would like to refer to the recent exchange of opinions. In January 1995, Sweden took over from Poland as chair of the Council of Baltic Sea States. What is your general perception, as well as your vision, of co-operation in the Baltic sea region during your chairmanship?

Mr Carlsson, Prime Minister of Sweden

Mr CARLSSON. – I am glad that your country and mine – through the Prime Minister Mr Mazowiecki – took the initiative to foster closer co-operation in the Baltic sea. Our first conference in Brondby some five years ago was a good start. We are now happy to take over from Poland as chair in May. We shall of course work closely with Poland and draw on its experience of the past year. The countries are now more aware that it is not only a matter of the environment and the Balte sea as such. I hope to persuade other European Union member countries to understand how politically important it is to expand co-operation in relation to the Baltic sea.

Yesterday, at the Cannes Conference, I proposed an amendment to our statement in which the Union underlined the importance of the Baltic sea co-operation. That amendment was accepted and it gives us another possibility to continue the co-operation and make it part of security in Europe. That will give our work an extra dimension. We have another possibility for dialogue with the European Union and we should make use of it.

Mr IWINSKI (Poland)

At the Cannes Conference yesterday the Polish Prime Minister, Mr Josef Oleksy, suggested organising a special summit of the European Union and countries of central and eastern

Europe devoted to the aim of securing the membership of those countries in the Union. How do you view such an idea?

Mr Carlsson, Prime Minister of Sweden

That sort of summit already takes place. I do not know whether it is necessary to have an extra summit, but I shall consider the arguments for it. I have only seen the proposal and have not been able to discuss it with my colleagues. In practice, we already have such meetings, which work well; we have a dialogue on a bilateral basis. When I was in Budapest some weeks ago I had a talk with Mr Horn, the Prime Minister of Hungary, on the subject. We have a continuing dialogue and I shall work so that we do not lose the momentum, but strive to achieve enlargement, step by step.

Mr KELAM (Estonia)

Mr Prime Minister, I greatly appreciate the stand that you have taken today in support of the rapid enlargement of the European Union in relation to the Visegrad countries and the Baltic states. As a neighbour and a close friend of the Baltic states, may I ask what is your opinion about what the Baltic states should do until they join the European Union? What would constitute the best security guarantees for the Baltic states in the meantime? Do you agree that the Baltic states should be defined as an area in which the European Union and western defence organisations are clearly interested, or as a grey zone situated between western Europe and Russia?

Mr Carlsson, Prime Minister of Sweden

I believe that every country has to decide its own security policy – that is its right and privilege. Too often, one country tries to influence another. Sometimes countries decide on behalf of other countries. I believe that, as a matter of principle, every country should have the right to decide its own security policy. Happily, that is now true of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. I would be careful in advising you on your security policy, which is up to you, your parliament and your government.

Sweden has come to the conclusion that it will not ask for membership of Nato. We are observers at Western European Union, and the fact that we are members of the European Union has important security implications. Our experience of the post-war period, when we have given stability to northern Europe with our foreign and security policy, has led us to believe that we should not ask for membership of Nato. That is our decision; it is for you, Mr Kelam, to decide what is good for you.


I call Mr Kelam to ask a supplementary question.

Mr KELAM (Estonia)

That leads me to my next question. Can you imagine any circumstances that would make Sweden change its non-alignment policy?

Mr Carlsson, Prime Minister of Sweden

Yes. The name of my predecessor, Olaf Palme, was mentioned. He was the first to use the phrase “common security”, which I believe is the ideal situation in Europe. We should together build a common security to make it possible to reduce, step by step, our national defence and, instead, build up a common democracy. That is my ideal and I hope that we can achieve it. If that were to happen, the core of our security policy would be changed, but that has not happened yet. The decision of the Swedish Parliament today is that we should continue our military non-aligned policy.


My question also involves security and Sweden’s neutrality. In his speech, the Prime Minister referred several times to Sweden’s position within the European Union. How does he view Sweden’s position in the Union? Western European Union is linked with the Maastricht Treaty. Sweden’s position is different from that of the majority of members, which are in the European Union and Western European Union. How does the Prime Minister view his position? Will he reflect on what might happen at the intergovernmental conference next year? Does he think that Sweden’s neutrality might be one of the subjects discussed at the conference?

Mr Carlsson, Prime Minister of Sweden

Yes, I am sure that security policy will constitute an important part of the debate. The second pillar involves co-operation between, states. Western European Union is an instrument of the European Union. Countries can choose whether they want to be members. Sweden has decided to become an active observer. It is difficult to say what will develop in the long term. The United Kingdom’s position is difficult to predict. Sweden will not use its influence to veto the decision if member countries want to build up stronger military co-operation within WEU. Nato is the strong arm of that co-operation but if member countries wish to transfer some of that power to WEU, Sweden will not veto the decision. That does not mean that we will participate, but we shall not prevent other countries from strengthening that co-operation.

At present, it seems that WEU will go in a different direction and will be used as a peace-keeping instrument. Sweden has been active, even when it had a stricter neutral policy than it has today. Sweden has participated in nearly all the peacekeeping operations in the post-war period. At present, we have 1 300 soldiers in the former Yugoslavia. That demonstrates that we do not use our foreign policy to isolate ourselves or to run away from our share of the burden. On the contrary, we seek actively to work together, as I said in my speech when I mentioned the practical proposal for early warning, which is most important in preventing conflict. I hope that I have given some idea of our attitude. It is an area that is developing fast and hopefully new possibilities will emerge in the next five or ten years.

Mr VALLEIX (France) (translation)

We have never before talked so much about defence in this Chamber. You yourself, Prime Minister, forcefully raised the subject by referring to the French nuclear tests. In this connection, your observers will have reported to you on the debate that took place last week at WEU.

I have noted your commitment concerning Bosnia, but I was struck by some contradictions. You are in favour of common security, yet you speak of “militarily non-aligned countries”.

You also referred to a military capacity that could be gradually reduced – why not indeed, as the cold war is over? However, how will we be able to guarantee common security if all countries reduce their means?

My question is therefore as follows: how do you reconcile military disengagement, towards which you appear to be leading your own country – bearing in mind the budgetary cutbacks and the current rundown of the armaments industry that is creating employment problems – with the importance you attach to security both of the Baltic and of Europe? To me, this appears more like a contradiction than a prospect of reconciliation.

Mr Carlsson, Prime Minister of Sweden

Swedish history demonstrates that we have not isolated ourselves from the rest of the world. We have been a very active member of the United Nations and we have 50 000 or 60 000 soldiers involved in peacekeeping – perhaps even more, there could be 70 000 or 75 000 of them. We have developed advanced technical and military systems and we have built our own military aircraft, thereby contributing to stability in northern Europe.

It is true, however, that we are now living in a new Europe. Communism no longer exists and the cold war is over. Against that background, not only have we applied for membership of the European Union, but we have become a very active member of it. I hope that was understood from my speech today. There are now fantastic new possibilities for Europe to meet new security problems. The environment represents as serious a security problem as nuclear weapons and we should consider adapting our policies and institutions to take that into account.

We need much more co-operation over national borders. A number of tasks that used to belong to national parliaments are no longer sufficient and we need new forms of co-operation. This Assembly plays one important part in that new role. I can assure you that Sweden will not be isolated. On the contrary, I hope that we have supplied practical proof that we shall anticipate and accept our responsibilities. Sometimes it is a good thing that we are not all exactly the same and that we have different starting points for our work.

Mr FIGEL (Slovakia)

As my question on security has already been answered exhaustively, I should like to congratulate Mr Carlsson and the Swedes on their foreign and security policy. I am fully convinced by previous answers and by his speech that Swedish foreign policy is European, transparent and actively supports Maastricht rather than Sarajevo and that it is fighting developments such as those in Sarajevo.

Mr ELO (Finland)

It is generally well known that Finland and Sweden have traditionally excellent relations which set an example to other countries in Europe. However, we have a minor problem involving Finnish-speaking people in Sweden. An estimated 400 000 Finns in Sweden speak Finnish as then- mother tongue. Although the position of the Finnish language has improved in the past few years, the Swedish Government is not willing to grant it minority status according to the Charter of the Council of Europe on Regional and Minority Languages. What measures will the Swedish Government take to grant the Finnish language in Sweden minority status in accordance with that charter?

Mr Carlsson, Prime Minister of Sweden

Yes, the Finnish immigrants have brought important assets to Sweden. The Finnish language has a central position in Swedish society, and consequently the question of giving it minority language status has recently arisen. My government has appointed a parliamentary committee to investigate Sweden’s ratification of the Charter on Regional and Minority Languages and its practical meaning in respect of the Finnish language. Its report will be presented next year and that will provide another platform for discussing that issue.

Mr ELO (Finland)

Thank you for that answer. There are several ethnic minorities in Sweden, but taking into consideration the history and traditions of the Finnish-speaking minority, do you personally believe that the Finnish minority should have special status in your country, along the same lines as the Swedish minority in Finland?

Mr Carlsson, Prime Minister of Sweden

Sometimes I would very much like to have my personal preferences, but as Prime Minister I have to accept democracy and represent my country and my parliament. We have now decided to ask the committee to work on that issue and produce a proposal that will be discussed and, hopefully, we shall find a solution that will not only be accepted but appreciated by Finnish people in Sweden and in Finland.

I should mention, however, that Sweden has tried to have a generous immigration policy. Close to 20% of our population comes from other countries or backgrounds. There are schools where fifty different languages are spoken and there are more than 200 000 Muslims, so, generally speaking, we have tried to take responsibility for creating – in that respect – a good climate in Europe.

We face an extremely difficult problem with the refugees and how we take care of them – and sometimes, how we do not take care of them. I agree with Mr Elo that the language problem is very important too. You will not be surprised to hear that Finnish people in Sweden, a Nordic country, have traditionally held a special position in our country, which is why we appointed the committee.

Mr RODRIGUES (Portugal) (translation)

Prime Minister, I am glad – and the members of this Assembly will undoubtedly feel the same – to have heard such a fine humanist address as yours.

I have noted your statements regarding the resumption of nuclear testing in the Pacific by France. I congratulate you: your position is in keeping with the pacifist tradition of the Swedish people.

My question is therefore as follows: would Sweden, as a member of the European Union, be willing to take within the Council of Ministers of the European Union the initiative of asking France not to carry out the tests planned at Mururoa?

Mr Carlsson, Prime Minister of Sweden

As you know, we had a meeting in Cannes yesterday and the day before. At a dinner the day before yesterday, Chancellor Vranitzky of Austria spoke on this very subject on behalf of several member countries, telling the French President that we were worried about the new tests. In the document – agreed also by France – that we decided on yesterday we underline the great need for a comprehensive test ban, to come into force no later than 1996.

The danger of the French tests is that they will spread to other countries that already have nuclear weapons, and they may give entrant countries a reason to produce their own nuclear weapons. I hope that that will not happen; yesterday’s statement by the European Union was a message to the countries of the world to stop the testing and to implement a comprehensive test ban treaty. I hope that that will prove to be the policy, so that we may concentrate on other threats to humanity. I have already mentioned the environment, but we also attach great importance to the idea of democratic security: building democracy and respect for human rights and the rule of law. That is another kind of security to which we need to pay attention.


I call Mr Rodrigues for his supplementary question.

Mr RODRIGUES (Portugal) (translation)

I congratulate you, Prime Minister, on the position you have stated. If you were to ask that the tests, instead of being carried out in Polynesia, be carried out in the Massif Central, whose geological composition is comparable to that of the French atolls, would not statements like the one you have just made constitute a stronger protest?

Mr Carlsson, Prime Minister of Sweden

Although I am a very friendly man, I do not rule out the possibility that I would react more strongly if the problem were geographically closer. I remind you that my government has worked for many years against nuclear testing. We have also been very active in the diplomatic struggle. I was a member of the six nations’ initiative, whose main task was to work to eliminate nuclear weapons. Sweden was one of the first – if not the first – small countries with the capacity at the end of the 1950s to produce its own atomic bomb, but we were the first to decide not to do that.

We have tried for many years to abolish nuclear weapons. We think they are inhuman and a threat to the future of humanity, so we should get rid of them as soon as possible.

Mr BANKS (United Kingdom)

I thank the Prime Minister for his visionary speech. I should like to hear similar sentiments expressed by other European leaders and candidate European leaders.

What discussions have taken place in the Nordic Council on the resumption of commercial whaling by Norway, in complete defiance of the International Whaling Commission and public opinion in many parts of Europe and north America?

Mr Carlsson, Prime Minister of Sweden

No decisions on whaling have been taken in the Nordic Council, but the subject has been discussed there. In preparation for the annual meeting of the IWC, Nordic ministers have a habit of exchanging information on whaling. Sweden’s view is that decisions on whaling are within the competence of the International Whaling Commission.

Mr BANKS (United Kingdom)

Will the Prime Minister and the Swedish Government be urging Norway to cease commercial whaling at the next meeting of the Nordic Council?

Mr Carlsson, Prime Minister of Sweden

In a message to the Norwegian Government we said that we regretted its decision, as we do not have enough facts about the numbers of whales. We abstained at the last meeting of the International Whaling Commission.

Mr GJELLEROD (Denmark)

Tomorrow in this hemicycle we shall hold an urgent debate on the situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Do you think that the international community will be able to alter the situation there positively by changing from a peacekeeping policy to a peace-creating policy?

Mr Carlsson, Prime Minister of Sweden

This is the fiftieth anniversary of the United Nations. It is often criticised. People ask why it does not do more and why it has not succeeded in the former Yugoslavia. But we must not forget that most countries – even some members of the Security Council – do not even pay their fees. What the United Nations can do depends entirely on what member countries are prepared to give it a chance to do.

I favour an early-warning approach – a step-by-step strategy, the last step of which should be the use of force by the United Nations. Of course it was not prepared for, and lacked the capability to deal with, what has happened in the former Yugoslavia. Nevertheless I see no other way apart from a diplomatic solution. I favour the continuation of UNPROFOR’s presence in the country, trying to fulfil its very difficult task. The other alternatives would be a disaster for the people in Bosnia and for Europe, and it would be very humiliating for the United Nations in the year of its fiftieth anniversary. I do not say that they would succeed.

I know that Carl Bildt’s task here is a very difficult one, but I am glad to hear that he will come here and create a possibility for dialogue in this very important Parliamentary Assembly. My advice would be to let us continue; let us do what we can with the present resources and try to convince the different parts in this terrible struggle to stop fighting; to stop the killing; to find a peaceful solution. The European Union and the United Nations would like to participate in that. I think that the overwhelming majority of the people in Europe now say, “Enough of the killing. Stop the killing and come to a peaceful solution”.

Mr GJELLEROD (Denmark)

Thank you very much for that answer. I have a final question. Will you give a short evaluation of Nordic co-operation in UNPROFOR?

Mr Carlsson, Prime Minister of Sweden

Yes, I think that that is a very good example of the rather unique co-operation that we have between the Nordic countries. We have the Nordic Council, but now in this very difficult task of being a part of UNPROFOR we work together. We are a group. We are no longer four or five different countries. We are, in a way, a group of people working together. We do not care whether we come from Denmark, Norway or Sweden, or whether we have Finnish equipment. We work together for a very important task. I hope that that will spread so that such solidarity among nations will be common in Europe. I am sure that that would bring a much better Europe than we have today.


Thank you, Mr Carlsson. We have finished our debate. That brings to an end the questions. I thank you very warmly. This has been one of the brilliant pages in recent times in our Assembly. It is important to spread and publicise the report, the statement and the questions. Thank you very much for your presence here. You will always be welcome.