wikileaks ico  Home papers ico  Cables mirror and Afghan War Diary privacy policy  Privacy
IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
06STOCKHOLM393 2006-03-21 16:06:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Stockholm
Cable title:  

SWEDEN: FOREIGN MINISTER FREIVALDS RESIGNS

Tags:   PREL PGOV SW 
pdf how-to read a cable
VZCZCXRO6801
OO RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSM #0393 0801606
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 211606Z MAR 06
FM AMEMBASSY STOCKHOLM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 9980
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
					  C O N F I D E N T I A L STOCKHOLM 000393 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/08/2016
TAGS: PREL PGOV SW
SUBJECT: SWEDEN: FOREIGN MINISTER FREIVALDS RESIGNS

REF: A. STOCKHOLM 198

B. 2005 STOCKHOLM 298

C. MARCH 8 CHRISTENSEN/MIDDLETON EMAIL

Classified By: Polcouns Casey Christensen, reason 1.4 (b) and (d).



1. (u) Prime Minister Goran Persson announced at a press
conference March 21 the resignation of Foreign Minister Laila
Freivalds. Persson named Deputy Prime Minister Bosse
Ringholm as her "temporary" replacement. FM Freivalds had
been scheduled to meet with Secretary Rice April 21. State
Secretary Hans Dahlgren also submitted his resignation, but

SIPDIS
Ringholm has asked him to stay on.



2. (u) Freivalds said at the press conference "I feel that
the current situation has become impossible for me. It is
damaging to the government, to the party, and to the Foreign
Ministry, and therefore I have chosen to resign."



3. (u) Internal MFA sources recently disclosed that
Freivalds had, contrary to her earlier assertions, prior
knowledge of her personal MFA political adviser Stefan Amer's
contact with a web-hosting company that later shut down a web
site that had published the Mohammed caricatures (ref A).
This action had been challenged by diverse groups as a
violation of constitutional guarantees of free speech. The
site in question was the official site of the
extreme-right-wing, anti-immigration party Sweden Democrats.
Before Freivald's role was revealed, PM Persson had publicly
criticized Amer's actions.



4. (c) Freivalds has been subject to persistent criticism
for her handling of the tsunami crisis of December 2004 in
which over 500 Swedes perished and thousands were affected
(ref B). A governmental report on the crisis was
particularly critical of Freivalds. The Swedish parliament
(Riksdag) recently concluded hearings on the government's
role in the tsunami crisis where again, Freivalds was sharply
criticized. A possible vote of no-confidence against
Freivalds was pending at the time of her resignation. Before
the latest scandal, we had heard from an opposition member of
parliament involved in the hearings that the vote of
no-confidence would likely not succeed (ref C). Following
these latest revelations, the Green Party, which supports
Persson,s government and would be the pivotal party for a
vote of no-confidence, joined the opposition parties in
calling for Freivalds, resignation. By dumping Freivalds,
Persson has appeased the Greens and kept them as an ally --
an important consideration as the September 2006
parliamentary elections approach.



5. (c) By dismissing Freivalds at this juncture, Persson has
sought to focus attention on the immediate scandal -- i.e.,
not telling the truth about her role in shutting down the web
site -- while at the same time solving the conundrum of how
to fire the unpopular Freivalds without responding to the
demands from the tsunami critics for her ouster on that
account.



6. (c) Freivalds, removal occurs as Persson calibrates his
team in the run-up to the September 2006 parliamentary
elections, and attempts to put the tsunami scandal behind
him. By all accounts, Ringholm is expected to be a place
holder. MFA and other contacts -- including one of
Ringholm's assistants -- tell us that Persson will likely
name a non-temporary replacement within a matter of weeks.
Names mentioned include Minister for Development Cooperation
Carin Jamtin (generally deemed the front-runner),
parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Urban Ahlin, and
former Ambassador to the U.S. and current UNGA President Jan
Eliasson.
NOBLE