Posts Tagged ‘Apology’

A Swedish government non-apology (which the silly Saudis thought was sincere)

March 30, 2015

Oh dear!

She couldn’t understand how a unilateral non-extension of a defence cooperation agreement with Saudi Arabia – because it was a dictatorship – was an insult. She couldn’t understand how her planned formal speech about women’s rights and human rights – as Sweden’s Foreign Minister and as a speaker invited to the Arab League – was not an insult to the systems of government and a denigration of their judicial systems. Even though she was a Foreign Minister she could not understand how criticising a judicial system based on Sharia was not also a criticism of the religion it was based on.

In 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 understand her offense and now she cannot understand how the Swedish appeal through its special emissary could be construed as an apology! But her denial that anything said was an apology insults intelligence. Or does she mean that “we didn’t apologise but the silly Saudis thought we did”. She might as well say that the Saudi King now agrees with her statements.

Margot Wallström is among the more experienced and competent members of the Swedish government. But as Foreign Minister, her lack of understanding of the consequences of her statements smacks of incompetence. I have no doubt that some of her statements were more for domestic consumption, since this government is hostage to its green partners (pun intended). But it was more than a little naive for a Foreign Minister to think that such statements would not be taken seriously and at face value abroad.

The Saudi King would never have received an emissary directly from the “socialist” government which had contemptuously dismissed him as a dictator. However he was certainly prepared to accept an emissary and a private letter from King Carl XVI Gustaf. The letter hailed King Salman for  “protecting Islam and its holy places” and expressed great “sorrow and regret”. It is not the first time that Swedish royalty has been invoked to smooth over diplomatic issues with Saudi Arabia. Back in 2004 Crown Princess Victoria was sent to Saudi Arabia (also by a Social Democrat government) to save some defence (radar equipment) deals. The Defence cooperation agreement came in 2005 – also under the Social Democrats.

UPDATE! I note that the Svenska Dagbladet claims to have seen the King’s letter and that it contained no apology. Presumably SvD in its politically correct wisdom (or self-delusion) thinks that the Saudis have been successfully fooled!!!




Björn von Sydow, former Swedish defense minister and special envoy of Sweden meets Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, Minister of Defense. (SPA)

 Arab NewsSweden has apologized for the recent offensive remarks by its foreign minister against the laws of Saudi Arabia and hoped for better relations between the two countries. …….. 

In a message to King Salman, Sweden’s Prime Minister Stefan Lofven expressed “deep sorrow and regret over the current crisis in the relations between the two countries” while stressing his government’s keenness to maintain healthy relations between the two countries.
Lofven also said the role of King Salman in protecting Islam and its holy places is clear and that his government was concerned over the deterioration of the relations between the two countries following the controversial comment by his cabinet minister.

But for domestic consumption Margot Wallström must now walk the tightrope and insist that what was an abject apology, and accepted as a sincere apology, was not really an apology after all. If she agrees she apologised she upsets the greens and denies moral superiority. If she denies the apology she is insincere and has “duped” the Saudis with her subterfuge.

Expressen: “Naturally, the Swedish government has not apologised for its well-known and long-held positions on democracy and human rights”

The bottom line is that for a Swedish Foreign Minister, an abject expression of “deep sorrow and regret” does not constitute an apology. If a Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister had used such words he would have had little recourse but to resign for having his country deliver such a shameful apology. A Japanese Foreign Minister forced to express “sorrow and regret” would then have resigned and (since hara-kiri is no longer de rigueur) left politics. These are dangerous waters for Margot Wallström and for Sweden. A Foreign Minister of Sweden who is perceived as being insincere is “all used up” and can only damage the country’s affairs abroad.

What I find most reprehensible in anybody is a lack of professionalism. The worst insult I know of is to call a specialist an amateur. Margot Wallström and this Swedish red/green government have been amateur and unprofessional. If Swedish foreign policy is to influence and encourage the development of human rights in Saudi Arabia then this episode has been spectacularly counter-productive.

Bad forecasts and grovelling apologies have become standard for the IMF

June 9, 2014

It’s not what you say but what you do that counts.

Economics is clearly not a science though many would like us to think it is. But with the IMF it is just apology followed by apology for wrong forecasts and bad advice. It smacks of forecasts made to suit a political agenda or just plain incompetence. Based on their track record nothing that is said by Christine Lagarde or the International Monetary Fund that she heads can be taken very seriously. She spends more time apologising than would seem to be healthy.

The latest apology by Christine Lagarde has been called “grovelling”:

‘Do I have to go on my knees?’: grovelling apology from IMF head for incorrect warnings on UK economy

Head of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde, accepts her organisation’s low growth forecasts for the UK economy were wrong.

Christine Lagarde has asked whether she needs to grovel on her knees before George Osborne over the IMF’s incorrect warnings on the UK economy, as she warned against raising taxes.

“Do I have to go on my knees?” Ms Lagarde, the head of the International Monetary Fund said, when asked whether she has apologised to George Osborne over the fund’s low growth forecasts and calls to adopt a ‘Plan B’ of less austerity – calls the body now accept it got wrong.

In a blow to Ed Miliband, who has called for higher rates of personal taxation and new levies on banks, Ms Lagarde said tax rises are “not recommendable”.

But this is not an isolated incident. Time after time the IMF announces that some country has got its economic policy wrong and warns of dire consequence if the country does not follow the advice of the IMF. Then – a few months later – they admit that the IMF got it wrong. And ususally by then they have caused much misery and wailing and gnashing of teeth.

12th January 2012: Does the EU-IMF Owe Ireland an Apology?

2nd June 2012: IMF apology to Greece after Lagarde remarks – YouTube

3rd January 2013: An amazing mea culpa from the IMF’s chief economist on austerity

6th June 2013: For hard-hit Greeks, IMF mea culpa comes too late

In any normal corporation Christine Lagarde and the IMF’s Chief Economist,  Olivier Blanchard would have been sacked a long time ago. And to think that some are suggesting Christine Lagarde for the top job in the EU only reduces my respect for the IMF and the EU.


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