Natalia and I have been in Sweden for less than seven months, but I honestly can not think of any other period of time in my life more packed with excitement than this first half-year in Stockholm. We have had the time of our lives, and literally every day has been unforgettable. But just when I thought it could not possibly get any better…the Secretary of State comes to visit! What an incredible honor – and what an amazing recognition of the importance of our friendship with Sweden, and the high value our most important leaders place on this relationship. This was the first visit to Sweden in more than 30 years by a U.S. Secretary of State, purely for the purpose of enhancing, deepening, and honoring the relationship between our two countries. And that’s what made it historic.
Swedish-American relations have never been stronger or warmer. Literally as the Secretary landed on the coldest day in Sweden in decades, the warmth of Foreign Minister Bildt and his wife ,who joined Natalia and I in greeting the Secretary on the wet tarmac, was palpable and set the tone for the entire visit.
Sweden is in the very front ranks with us in direct engagement with the immediate global problems we all confront. Our Swedish hosts were both honored and very pleased the Secretary travelled to Stockholm. They welcomed Secretary Clinton with the same enthusiasm that the staff and families of US Embassy Stockholm did. We are so proud of our Secretary of State, and we are proud of the American – Swedish relationship which her visit deepened and honored.
A Powerful Global Partnership Based on Shared Values
As Secretary Clinton said, Sweden is – and has long been – one of America’s top partners and one of our oldest friends. Importantly, Sweden brings its diplomatic heft and its development expertise to nearly every corner of the globe. When it comes to global priorities, whether it is Afghanistan, Iran, counter-terrorism, global economic reform, humanitarian assistance, the Swedes are right by our side. It is a relationship based on shared and deeply cherished values, values which we and Sweden are both committed to protecting.
At the recent NATO Summit in Chicago, the U.S. warmly welcomed Sweden as one of NATO’s strongest partners, standing with us in Afghanistan as we begin the transition to full Afghan responsibility for security by 2014, as well as working for the betterment of the Afghan people into the future. In addition, Sweden offered NATO the use of its Nordic Center for Gender in Military Operations, which further demonstrates the strong and positive relationship between Sweden and NATO. Secretary Clinton recognized this important offer in her remarks in Stockholm with the Swedish Prime Minister Frederick Reinfeldt and Foreign Minister Carl Bildt.
Working Together To Keep The Internet Free
The Secretary also noted the close cooperation we share with the Swedes when it comes to protecting Internet Freedom. She applauded Sweden’s leadership on Internet Freedom issues, stressing that those rights belong in the Internet as much as they do in the “real” world. She also commended our Embassy for maximizing our social media platforms, and in particular for our our work in reaching out to Swedish bloggers. As we all know, Foreign Minister Carl Bildt is a prolific blogger himself. So when he
complimented our embassy’s use of social media as a model for his own ministry to follow, it was high praise indeed! And when it comes to all of the large challenges that know no boundaries, such as climate change, or gender equality, or Internet freedom, it is true that Sweden is not just on the front lines, but leading. And I am greatly appreciative for all of that work, and look forward to enhancing it in the months and years ahead.
Dealing With Climate Change Together
Personally, I’m delighted that Secretary Clinton also chose to focus on climate and the environment during her visit. Sweden and the U.S. have a strong partnership in this area — both countries are initiators of a global coalition to address short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs). Secretary Clinton joined Sweden’s Environment Minister Lena Ek and H.R.H. Crown Princess Victoria at an event launching the coalition’s global awareness-raising efforts, and in her remarks she said: “Few people actually know about the impact we could have on global warming if we aggressively target short-lived climate pollutants. And fewer still know that many cost-effective solutions already exist and are just waiting to be broadly implemented.”
To bolster the efforts led by Sweden and the U.S. to raise awareness about SLCPs, Secretary Clinton announced a global contest to find the most creative ideas for raising awareness of short-lived climate pollutants and the work that must be done to stop them. You can find details on the contest at www.unep.org/ccac.
It was so terrific to have the Secretary visit Stockholm and to spend some time with our Embassy team and their families. Our Meet and Greet with Embassy staff and families was warm and uplifting, and reflected the respect and admiration our Secretary of State has for public service. That she took time for photos with our Marines, our Embassy’s kids and all of us will long be remembered. As the father of a young daughter with a wife joining me in a commitment to women’s empowerment, it was inspiring to have Secretary Clinton visit Sweden, as she is a global leader on this and many other issues. In Sweden she finds a willing and capable partner which shares our values, as Sweden’s government today has more women ministers than men, including a female Minister of Defense. Tack så mycket (“Thank you so much” in Swedish) Madame Secretary!!!!