Europe

Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Sweden, shares his perspective from Europe:

Is Europe waking up to the reality of Asia?

I think that's the case. If you listen to the State of the Union speech by Ursula von der Leyen and the commission president yesterday, the new Indo-Pacific strategy of the European Union was a key part of her proposals. To develop new trade links, to intensify political cooperation, to look more at green and digital projects, to look at infrastructure projects together. And Korea is a good example of what can be achieved. We have a 10-year free trade agreement that has doubled trade between the European Union and Korea. And today, European Union is the single largest foreign direct investor in Korea. Much has been done. But if you listen to the voices in Brussels, yes, Asia is a key part of our future and policy steps are being taken.

Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Sweden, shares his perspective from Europe:

What is the outlook for the upcoming German election?

Well, that's a dramatic election campaign if you have ever seen one. We've seen the CDU, the main governing - the Merkel party, their candidate has been faltering quite heavily. You see the SPD candidate presenting himself as the responsible successor to Merkel. And we are going to have an election night that's going to be highly uncertain with a number of options open for which kind of government will be in Germany for the next four years. But days left to go, so lots of drama ahead.

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Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Sweden, shares his perspective from Europe:

With the EU having achieved 70% vaccination of the adult population, why are new travel restrictions being proposed?

Well, it's with the US, because the US has restrictions against Europeans. And with the EU now having more vaccinations than the United States has, this is sort of a signal to the US that perhaps we should look at this again.

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Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Sweden, shares his perspective from Europe:

What are the fears in Europe stemming out of what is happening in Afghanistan?

Well, there are of course, a lot fears coming, long-term security and other issues, the effect on global politics of this. But more immediate, of course, there is the refugee issue. There's enormous generosity when it comes to full accepting all of those that we've been able to evacuate that have been working with us in force over the years in Afghanistan. But there's also a fear that there will be a repetition of 2015. There are elections coming up in September in Norway and primarily in Germany and in the beginning of next year in France. And you can see the EU internal interior ministers meeting and you can see what President Macron is saying. And I think the reaction is going to be an enormous will to have humanitarian efforts in the region, the hope that the United Nations can stay in Afghanistan and can help in the region. And that is important. But then we also see, of course, that the walls are coming up. The Turks are building a wall on the border with Iran. Greece is building a wall on the border with Turkey. And add to that, of course, we have the problem of the weaponization of refugees. Lukashenko of Belarus is sort of deliberately, a sort of importing, smuggling, and paying for refugees to come to Minsk, and then he is hovering them over the border to Lithuania and Poland and Latvia in order to pressure those particular countries. That has to be reacted to. So, issues are going to be complex when it comes to Afghanistan. We're going to live with the Afghanistan issue for a very long time.

Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Sweden, shares his perspective from Europe:

What has been the European reaction to what's happening in Afghanistan?

Well, I think shock and disbelief is the appropriate expression for it. Shock and disbelief over the Americans just cutting out running, although you might argue that we should have seen it coming. And then, of course, a lot of long-term questions that will play out over time. Can the United States be relied upon, right or wrong? That question is going to linger for quite some time.

Are the EU nations prepared to accept Afghan refugees?

Well, the priority at the moment must of course be those that have worked for our forces, our development efforts, our embassies, and to get them out. As otherwise, Europe already has a substantial number, as a matter-of-fact Afghans are the number one nation when it comes to regular migration. Last year our figures for 2020 was 34,000 coming in. There are nearly 150,000 of them in Germany, there are 30,000 in Sweden. This is to compare with single digit thousand numbers in the US. So there will be an enormous effort to try to help displaced refugees in the region, and then the somewhat more managed global handling of the refugee issue will be called for.

Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Sweden, shares his perspective from Europe:

What's the issue of traveling between the US and Europe?

Well, that's a subject of irritation at the moment because Europe has opened up to American visitors, but America is still closed. And this, in spite of the fact that if you look at vaccination rates, they are higher in Europe, in the EU today, than they are in the US. So, if they send an alignment between Washington and Brussels on these issues in the next few weeks, there's a risk of the Europeans saying, "Well, if you've got to stop us, we're going to stop you." And I'm not quite certain that would be a good development.

Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Sweden, shares his perspective from Europe:

What is going on in Bosnia with Bosnian Serbs boycotting all major institutions?

Well, it's a reaction against a decision that was taken by the outgoing high representative during his very last days, after 12 years of having done very little in this respect, to have a law banning any denial of Srebrenica and other genocides. But this issue goes to very many other aspects of the Bosnian situation. So, it has created a political crisis that will be somewhat difficult to resolve.

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