This issue of Diplomaatia expounds on the domestic and foreign policies of one of Estonia’s peaceful and friendly neighbours – Sweden. We ask how well Estonians know the country that is the largest foreign investor in Estonia and we offer a few insights, which reveal that the image of Sweden as a sleepy and generous welfare state belongs to the past. In addition, this issue contains analyses of a few European countries that held elections in May – France, Serbia and Greece – and reflections upon NATO’s tasks and role in the wake of the Chicago Summit and a session of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly in Tallinn.
Jaak Jõerüüt, Ambassador of Estonia to Sweden, opens the debate on Sweden by asking how much we actually know about this neighbour of ours with whom we are politically and economically tightly integrated. He argues that we really need to know more and that the Estonian media should pay much closer attention to Sweden. Sweden’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Carl Bildt talks about Swedish politics and some global challenges in an interview with the editor of Diplomaatia Iivi Anna Masso. Bildt claims that Swedish society has changed and no longer corresponds to the image of a social democratic ‘people’s home’ (folkhem). At the same time, he is optimistic about the future of democracy in the world despite the current economic crisis.
A human rights expert and former member of the Swedish Parliament Göran Lindblad analyses Sweden’s foreign policy from a historical perspective. He questions the image of Sweden as a peaceful and neutral state, reminds the reader about the times when Sweden was an expansionist power and claims that by now the policy of neutrality has again become a thing of the past. Pärtel-Peeter Pere, an assistant to a member of the European Parliament, offers an overview of Sweden’s domestic politics: the major parties, the background and the perspectives. Freelance journalist Kadi Viik assesses the circumstances that led to the resignation of a Swedish social democratic leader and the interplay between the media and politics.
Political analyst Mariliis Mets reflects upon the May presidential elections in France and the victory of socialist Franí§ois Hollande. She argues that the most important reason for the socialist victory was the growing opposition in French society against former President Nicolas Sarkozy. A mood of protest seems to have had a strong role in other recent European elections too. Political economist Dusan PavlovicÃŒÂ assesses the parliamentary and presidential elections held in Serbia in May. He estimates that in spite of the surprise victory of Tomislav NikolicÃŒÂ, the new government will not be very different from the current one. A major goal for Serbia after the elections is to avoid ‘the Greek road’.
Political analyst Spyros Sofos analyses the recent parliamentary elections in Greece. Instead of the traditional left-right division, Greek politics is increasingly divided according to attitudes towards the austerity measures imposed by the EU. As the forming of a government has turned out to be impossible for now, Greece is facing another round of elections in June. The task of a new government will be to drag Greece out of its deep crisis.
In an interview with Iivi Anna Masso, President of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly Karl A. Lamers talks about the most important questions discussed at a NATO PA meeting in Tallinn and at the NATO Summit in Chicago, but also about the changing role of NATO in a changing world and about the new security challenges that we are facing. Jonatan Vseviov, Under-Secretary for Defence Policy at the Estonian Ministry of Defence, also offers a brief analysis of the NATO Summit. In his view, the key result of the summit was the restoration of an optimistic mood despite initial pessimism.
Mart Laar, a member of the Estonian Parliament, debates an article by President Toomas Hendrik Ilves in which he discussed issues of responsibility and solidarity in Europe. Laar challenges the president’s vision of Nordic cooperation, asking him to specify what ‘the Nordic model of society’ means in times of economic crisis and austerity. Laar claims that the Nordic model can no longer be social democratic and that to claim otherwise would mean to contribute to the populism that threatens European democracies.
Finally, in the book review section, Kadri Jõgi presents a book by Trita Parsi, A Single Roll of the Dice: Obama’s Diplomacy with Iran. A central argument posed by Parsi is that the policy of cooperation with authoritarian regimes in the Middle East and of disregarding human rights in the region has proved unsustainable.