Minister slammed for weapons export blunder
Published: 23 Apr 12 07:10 CET
Sweden's enterprise minster Annie Lööf has come in for heavy criticism following a blunder about Sweden’s arms exports.
In an interview broadcast on Saturday on Sveriges Radio (SR), Lööf didn’t rule out exporting arms to China – despite an arms embargo having been imposed on the country since 1989.
“If we don’t export weapons to China, as far as pesticides or other equipment for instance, what consequences would that have,” said Lööf on the air.
When asked whether Sweden ought to be able to export weapons to China, Lööf responded:
“Sweden should export to countries we cooperate with and have agreements with, as long as the legislation we have is respected.”
The Swedish Peace and Arbitration Society (Svenska Freds) were upset by the minister’s ignorance.
“Beneath contempt and very worrying,” said the society’s chairwoman Anna Ek to newspaper Expressen.
Ek finds it surprising that Lööf seems unaware of the EU’s arms embargo.
The mistake also surprised political scientist Ulf Bjereld, who believes the minister’s mistake may affect her credibility.
“Two things about this are very strange. She implies that China is in some sort of grey area, but the foreign ministry is very clear in its definition of the country as a dictatorship. The other thing is that she implies that Sweden might very well sell weapons to China, even though the EU has imposed an arms embargo on the country,” he said to newspaper Aftonbladet.
In retrospect, Lööf admits that her statement about China was unfortunate.
“I definitely didn’t intend to suggest that Sweden ought to export arms to China, and I don’t consider China to be a democracy,” Annie Lööf wrote, via her press secretary, in a text message to news agency TT.
“My intention was to explain how the system which regulates arms exports works, and which authorities and systems handle decisions on the matter,” she stated.
“I wanted to illustrate how complicated these systems are and that the Centre Party and myself have demanded tightened rules. My use of China as a theoretical example was unfortunate,” concluded Annie Lööf.
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