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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
09STOCKHOLM609
2009-09-25 12:41:00
UNCLASSIFIED
Embassy Stockholm
Cable title:  

DIASPORA ENGAGEMENT IN SWEDEN

Tags:   PHUM  PREL  BEXP  BITO  EAID  OEXC  OIIP  PGOV  SW 
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VZCZCXYZ0000
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHSM #0609/01 2681241
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 251241Z SEP 09
FM AMEMBASSY STOCKHOLM
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4748
						UNCLAS STOCKHOLM 000609 

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR S/GPI AND S/P

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PREL BEXP BITO EAID OEXC OIIP PGOV SW
SUBJECT: DIASPORA ENGAGEMENT IN SWEDEN

REF: A. STATE 86401

B. 2009 STOCKHOLM 375

C. 2008 STOCKHOLM 716

D. 2009 STOCKHOLM 457

E. 2008 STOCKHOLM 557

F. 2007 STOCKHOLM 555



1. Summary: Diaspora communities are vibrant and visible in
Swedish life. Many of these groups arrived because of war
and conflict at home. Some of the largest diaspora groups in
Sweden include Iraqis (110,000), Iranians (80,000). Kurds
(60,000) and Somalis (25,000). In-country outreach to
immigrant groups is strong, particularly during the first two
years of an immigrant's arrival to Sweden. Despite many
generous migration policies, however, immigrants face steep
economic and social hurdles as they integrate into Swedish
life. To address some of these challenges, the Swedish Trade
Council and the MFA launched the "Kosmopolit Project" on
September 15 to establish networks where foreign-born
entrepreneurs can meet, exchange experience and support each
other. A new Swedish study shows that if immigration
increases by 12,000 people, the result will be an increase in
exports by some $1 billion. Post outreach to diaspora
communities through visitor exchange programs, cultural
events and educational/career development has been
well-received and represents an area ripe for bilateral
engagement. End Summary.



2. Answers are keyed to questions in ref A.



A. Diaspora communities in Sweden are quite visible in
Swedish social life. Statistics Sweden reports that 1.2
million or about 14% of the Swedish population of 9.2 million
is foreign-born. Sweden today is a multicultural and diverse
country. Non-Swedish communities have traditionally lived in
concentrated areas, both strengthening group identity while
at the same time highlighting differences between Swedish and
non-Swedish populations. Sweden's population has increased
by over 240,000 people in the last five years, 77% of whom
are immigrants.



B. Many diasporans have educational ties to the Swedish
community. For example, there are nearly 2,000 Iranians
currently studying in Swedish universities, a pattern which
has continued since the 1970s. Other groups, such as the
Iraqis, have strong family connections in Sweden. The
Swedish Migration Board reports that over 33,000 residency
permits were granted on the grounds of family ties in 2008,
representing about one third of all permits granted that
year.



C. The Kurdish Diaspora is well organized through several
friendship associations that promote Kurdish language
instruction and Kurdish cultural events. Through these
organizations, Swedish Kurds, in collaboration with
international development cooperation organizations like the
Olaf Palme International Center, are financial contributors
to programs aimed at the reconstruction of infrastructure and
the rebuilding of civil society in Iraq.




D. Post is aware of several programs that reach out to
diaspora communities in Sweden. The Swedish Trade Council
along with the MFA's Iraq Desk sponsor regular meetings of
Iraqi business leaders in Sweden to foster trade (ref B).
The "Kosmopolit Project," launched by the MFA on September
15, aims to establish networks where foreign-born
entrepreneurs can meet, exchange experience and support each
other. Andreas Hatzigeorgiou, who heads the project, notes
that such networks are common in countries like the U.S.
According to the MFA, one in five companies set up in Sweden
is started by a person with a foreign background.
Hatzigeorgiou points to a study he conducted showing that if
immigration increases by 12,000 people, the result will be an
increase in exports by some $1 billion. Currently, the
Kosmopolit Project will focus on small and medium-sized
companies.



E. Many immigrants such as Iranians have high levels of
education at the time of their arrival to Sweden. Sweden
also attracts many new labor migrants. The Swedish Migration
Board reports that permits for agricultural, gardening,
forestry and fishing applications are on the rise. In
previous years, Sweden has received a high number of IT
specialist workers. This multicultural labor pool represents
a rich resource for reaching out to various diaspora
communities.



F. Muslim youth in Sweden have organized around messages of
peace and tolerance. About 100 young Swedish Muslims, ages
16 to 25, have been trained as "Peace Agents" with the
support of two educational associations, Sensus, with
Christian roots, and Ibn Rushd, with Muslim roots. Peace
Agents visit schools and organizations to promote dialogue
about the role of Islam in Swedish society. At an April
ceremony attended by Swedish Minister for Trade Ewa Bjorling,
the Peace Agents announced their hope of replicating the
program in other EU Member States with the goal of training a
thousand more Peace Agents in the coming months.



G. N/A



H. The International Compact with Iraq (ICI) conference held
in Stockholm in May 2008 reviewed political and security
progress in Iraq and launched a five-year peace and
development plan. The conference was attended by some 100
organizations. At the conference, the Iraqi Women Network
and the Swedish organization Kvinna till Kvinna (Woman to
Woman) spoke out about violence against Iraqi women and
called for more women to take part in democratic and
development processes in Iraq. This is one prominent example
of how Iraqi women in Sweden organized to promote democracy
and civil society reform in their home country.



I. Goran Lindqvist, Deputy Director in the Department for
Integration and Urban Development at the Swedish Ministry of
Integration and Gender Equality, says that there are few
programs directed to specific immigrant communities. This is
likely the result of Sweden policies that prevent targeting
groups based on race, ethnicity or religious affiliation.
Instead, immigrants are viewed as part of the overall social
welfare system. From a U.S. perspective, this stance can be
problematic when developing outreach programs because of the
reluctance among some Swedes to identify specific immigrant
groups.



J. In Sodertalje, a large city south of Stockholm with a
substantial Iraqi population, Mayor Anders Lago approached
the Embassy about developing an "opportunity fair" to provide
information on education and job opportunities in the U.S. to
Sodertalje youth. Since 2003, Sodertalje has received nearly
10,000 Iraqi refugees. With strong leadership from the
former Ambassador, the October 16, 2008, opportunity fair
attracted over 700 youth (ref C). Post has maintained
connections with the community and has developed further
intercultural initiatives at two local universities.



K. At a recent meeting with Poloffs, Ambassador Marika
Fahlen, Director of the MFA's West Africa and Horn of Africa
Department, expressed a keen interest in continuing outreach
programs between Somali communities in Sweden and in the U.S.
(ref D). She noted that Somalis in the U.S. had an easier
time integrating than their counterparts in Sweden. At the
annual Embassy-sponsored Iftar this fall, a young Muslim
woman told Poloff that a visiting delegation of Muslims from
the U.S. had been well-received in Sweden, and she looked
forward to similar programs in the future.



L. In summer 2007, Post sponsored a week-long series of
entrepreneurship seminars by Somali-American business leaders
that directly reached more than one percent of the Somali
community across Sweden and resulted in extensive positive
media coverage and the opening of three new immigrant-owned
businesses (ref E and F).



M. Recommendations for support:

--It would be helpful to have demographic information about
diaspora groups both in the U.S. and abroad more readily
available such as on a shared "diaspora website."

--To encourage exchange programs between host country and the
U.S., engagement initiatives from U.S. diaspora groups should
be supported by the Department.

--It would be interesting to see "best practices" or a
showcase of innovative diaspora programs at Posts around the
world to encourage new program development.

--Visits by diaspora experts to Post would offer new tools
for defining, identifying and engaging diaspora.



3. Post Contact: Susan Szmania, Professional Associate,
szmaniasj@state.gov.
BARZUN