Five years ago Margot Wallström, Sweden’s Foreign Minister (and Deputy Prime Minister), spoke as guest of honor at a meeting of the Arab League in Cairo. The speech was canceled after Wallström compared the whipping of Saudi Arabian blogger Raif Badawi to «medieval methods». Saudi Arabia reacted strongly, and their foreign ministry called Wallström’s criticism an «obvious interference in internal affairs.»
Later that day, Swedish Defense Minister Peter Hultqvist stated that Sweden did not want to extend its arms deal with Saudi Arabia. That led to the Kingdom calling its ambassador home. Norway’s closest neighbor thus ended up in a diplomatic crisis with Saudi Arabia, one of the most powerful countries in the Middle East.
Wallström received a lot of international support for her criticism, and also from home, as from the magazine ETC’s editor, Andreas Gustavsson. He wrote: «Finally, Sweden has gained a foreign policy backbone.»
But there were also many in both the government and the opposition who criticized her for acting amateurishly and not following diplomatic rules. Former Prime Minister Carl Bildt, for example, wrote: «It is very serious if there is an impression that we are running away from our …
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