From the beginning of this year until the middle of 2023, Sweden presides over the Council of the EU.
H.E. Diana Helen Madunic, Ambassador of Sweden to Croatia for Diplomacy&Commerce explains the priorities of the official Stockholm presidency of the EU Council, but also about the process of Sweden’s accession to NATO and assistance to Ukraine.
- Sweden takes over the presidency of the EU from 1.1. 2023. for six months. What will be the priorities of the presidency?
Our priorities will be questions that are of utmost importance for the whole European Union at the moment. Therefore, the Swedish Presidency has identified four main priorities:
- The security of the EU and the importance to continue standing united in the support of Ukraine and against the unlawful aggression of Russia.
- Efforts to promote economic growth and the competitiveness of the EU, by strengthening the internal market and global trade opportunities, but also by speeding up the digitalization of the Union.
- Thirdly, we believe that the EU needs to invest more in the green economy by putting the “Fit for 55 program” into action, but also speeding up the energy transition to make us all more independent from fossil fuels, not least from Russia. The transition to a fossil-free and resource-efficient circular economy will also require major investments in innovative European industries that can translate the best ideas and innovations into functional solutions.
We should also not forget that the European Union is based on values such as democracy, human rights, and the rule of law. Upholding these values, in times when they are under pressure in different parts of the world, will therefore be an essential element of the Sweden’s Presidency.
- Sweden wants to become a member of NATO. How far have the negotiations with Turkey reached in this regard, and when do you expect to become a full member of NATO?
The former and the current Swedish Government have discussed the issue several times with the Turkish President and the Turkish Government. They did not come to a conclusion yet, but the dialogue is ongoing on different levels, and we hope that an agreement will be reached soon. However, we were not entirely surprised by this situation. A ratification process with thirty member states of NATO is rather complicated, so one has to be prepared that obstacles can occur. But we hope that we will soon be able to resolve the issues and move forward by strengthening the NATO with two new member states, and thus the security of all of Europe.
- In which direction will official Stockholm’s support to Ukraine go? And do you think it is possible to reach an agreement to end the war in 2023?
Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine Sweden has extended a very strong support for Ukraine – political, economic, military, humanitarian and legal – including support for Ukraine’s candidate status to become member of the EU in the future. At the end of November, the Government sent another military support package to Ukraine that was larger than all the eight previous military materiel support packages combined, and the humanitarian package was the largest sent to date. The contents of the military support package amount to a total of about 3 billion Swedish kronor (approx. 270 million euros). The support is primarily intended to help Ukraine get through a winter, which by all accounts will be very difficult. I am not in a position to predict when the war might end, but I hope of course that it will happen soon.