Monarch to monarch: Saudi King accepts Swedish King’s apology

The Saudi Arabian Ambassador returned to Sweden yesterday. It must be galling for the Swedish Social Democratic government that a monarch-to-monarch apology and appeal was needed to mollify the Saudis. (No doubt the Swedish monarch’s request to the government for an increase in his budget will soon be approved). The apology was carried in a letter carried personally by the King’s/Swedish government’s envoy (not the Ambassador to Saudi Arabia), Björn von Sydow. He is a former Speaker and has even been Regent when the King and his children have been abroad. He would have been acceptable to the Saudi monarch as a true representative of King Carl XVI Gustaf. The Swedish government may say otherwise, but this was indubitably an appeal from a monarch to a monarch and not from a socialist government to a “dictator” King.

The Swedish Foreign Minister, Margot Wallström says she does not back away from any of her support for “human rights or democracy” and that she has the support of the people. Indeed! But it took a King to ride in on his white charger to rescue her. “We had an opportunity to address the misunderstandings that we could have criticized Islam or insulted Saudi Arabia” is what she said.  The Prime Minister, Stefan Löfven, while in China said “We have resolved any misunderstandings about our insulting Islam, which we have never done. We apologize if we have acted in such a manner that it has been understood that we  have somehow downgraded Saudi Arabia as a nation. That has never been our intention and we have not done that”. Sounds pretty close to an abject apology to me.

It is also grand hypocrisy. Because of course it was always Margot Wallström’s intention to denigrate Saudi Arabia, their system of government and their legal system. She singled out Saudi Arabia as a country whose morals were too low for Sweden to cooperate with on Defence matters.

She has been noticeably silent about voicing any criticism of China (where Prime Minister Löfven is on a visit). For Sweden to fall out with China would be economically unsustainable. The EU has been criticising Saudi Arabia for air attacks in Yemen but Margot Wallström has been conspicuously silent on the matter. Hopefully she has learnt the lesson that there is a little more to be considered about consequences when one is a Minister rather than an activist leading a demonstration. (That is a lesson still eluding her Green party partners in government who bear their share of blame for the Saudi Arabia fiasco).

DagensNyheter:

Saudi Arabia decided on Friday to normalize bilateral relations with Sweden after a meeting between the government’s envoy, Björn von Sydow, and Saudi Arabian government leaders and King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud.

“We had an opportunity to address the misunderstandings that we could have criticized Islam or insulted Saudi Arabia. This allowed the Ambassador to return” said Margot Wallström when asked if Sweden had apologized.

“I’m not backing down from my statements for democracy and human rights. It is well known what we think on these issues and it is something we have strong support in the Swedish population” she said

Margot Wallström thinks she has acted professionally and that the problem was resolved quickly in normalising relations with Saudi Arabia. Bjorn von Sydow had the meeting with government leaders and carried a letter from King Carl XVI Gustaf to King Salman. von Sydow will not go into any more detail.

“We can confirm that the king on the government’s desire sent a letter that the government’s envoy handed over to the Saudi king” wrote the Court Information officer Margaret Thorgren. “Please also refer all questions to the Foreign Ministry”. ………

According to the television channel Al-Arabiyya the Swedish king stressed “the power in the relationship” between their countries to his brother-monarch King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud.

Prime Minister Stefan Löfven comment on the re-established diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia during his visit to China. He did not directly answer the question if Sweden apologized.

“We have resolved any misunderstandings about our insulting Islam, which we have never done. We apologize if we have acted in such a manner that it has been understood that we  have somehow downgraded Saudi Arabia as a nation. That has never been our intention and we have not done that”.

A “democracy” provides no immunity from – or an excuse for – incompetence and stupidity.

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One Response to “Monarch to monarch: Saudi King accepts Swedish King’s apology”

  1. A Swedish government non-apology (which the silly Saudis thought was sincere) | The k2p blog Says:

    […] any case, the deteriorating diplomatic situation was rescued by a monarch-to-monarch appeal by King Carl XVI Gustaf to King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud. Margot Wallström could not […]

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