Obama (and entourage of 500) to paralyse Stockholm

Arlanda airport and Stockholm are places to be avoided for the next 2 days. Fortunately I don’t have to be in the area till next week.

President Barack Obama and his entourage of some 500-700 people will land at Arlanda airport in Stockholm tomorrow. He will spend a little over 24 hours in the Swedish capital and then leave for Saint Petersburg and the G20 summit on Thursday.

Not only will roads be closed to all traffic, even the subway will shut down while his convoy of some 50 vehicles passes overhead. Some Metro stations will shut down. It will “be the largest interference to public transport that Stockholm has ever seen”. In some areas even cyclists and pedestrians will have to find alternate routes.

On arrival on Wednesday he will have discussions with the Prime Minister and the Swedish Government,

The pair will discuss bilateral relations, regional and global political and economic developments, trade relations, climate and energy policies as well as various foreign policy areas, likely to include Syria. A joint press conference will be held after the meeting at the Rosenbad Conference Centre.

After the meeting, the Reinfeldt and Obama are set to head over to the Great Synagogue of Stockholm to honour Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat who saved tens of thousands of Jews from the Holocaust.

Next, the two leaders will motor over to the Royal Institute of Technology (Kungliga Tekniska Högskolan, KTH) for a half hour look at the university’s energy innovation research. The programme will focus on Swedish innovations within the Chemical Science division, with specific attention paid to fuel cells and solar cells.

… Obama and Reinfeldt will then head for dinner, where they will be joined by the prime ministers of Finland, Denmark, Iceland and Norway.

He will likely spend the night at the Grand Hotel and will have lunch with the Royal family on Thursday before returning to Arlanda airport, Air Force 1 and his hop over to Russia.

Some minor demonstrations are expected but they will have far fewer people attending than the various parties being organised by various Swedish-American groups and societies.

Of course it is just a stop-over on his way to Russia and his mind may be preoccupied by Syria. Certainly the horde of journalists trailing in his wake will have little interest in things Swedish and will concentrate on Syria and what may transpire between Obama and Putin in the next few days.

But there are a number of matters that Obama could take up – or avoid – in a bilateral sense:

  1. He could thank someone (who?) for his Nobel Peace Prize. He can still bask in that glory till next week when strikes on Syria are implemented. In any event the prize cannot be revoked.
  2. He could thank the Swedish Government for not considering asylum for Snowden.
  3. He could thank the Swedish Government and prosecutors for cooperating in “stitching-up” Julian Assange.
  4. He will expect and demand that Fredrik Reinfeldt stand behind the US in confronting Putin about Syria. He will not have much resistance from this Swedish Government in that objective.
  5. Some of the UN samples collected in Syria are being analysed in Sweden and Obama will expect that the analysis results not contradict anything he or Kerry have alleged.
  6. He could discuss some joint PR to accompany the publication of the first part of the IPCC report on global warming at the end of the month.
  7. He is likely to avoid any discussion of the current hiatus in global warming firstly because he himself is a believer and secondly because there are more followers of the “global warming religion” in Sweden than there are members of the Swedish church.
  8. He will not expect that Sweden will even address the matter of the NSA’s indiscriminate spying  (and Carl Bildt has confirmed that this is not on the agenda).
  9. He may discuss the “Swedish model” which has received some attention in the US press though the general impression in the US remains that Sweden’s social welfare and health care system is just one little step removed from full-blown communism.
  10. However he may well ask how the the tax rebates for house-work and for house maintenance and repairs have contributed to real job creation.
  11. He is unlikely to discuss the fact that every “green job” in Sweden has cost at least two elsewhere in the economy and how renewable energy has increased the cost of electricity for the consumer.
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