People ask me how the relationship between the US and Sweden will change without President Obama in office. I think a better way to look at is to think about what will stay the same. The United States and Sweden will continue to share a broad, deep relationship rooted in our common values, writes Azita Raji, US ambassador to Sweden until January, 20th.
I arrived in Sweden in March of last year, when the land was slowly waking up from the winter. There was a dream-like quality to those first few days—a carriage ride to the palace to present my credentials to the king, finally meeting my team at the Embassy, a whirlwind of courtesy calls with Swedish government officials.
I was honored by the welcome I received, impressed by the range of issues the United States and Sweden addressed together, and eager to get to work. The last several months have been productive ones for both the United States and Sweden, and the depth of our relationship continues to impress me to this day.
That relationship is not new. In fact, it is as old as the United States. In 1783, Ben Franklin signed a Treaty of Amity and Commerce on behalf of the revolutionary American government with Sweden, in which Sweden recognized the United States and the two countries outlined their relationship. Note those two elements—amity and commerce, friendship and trade. Those remain the cornerstones of the U.S./Swedish relationship to this very day.
We agree that freedom of expression and an independent press are critical parts of civil society. We agree that people should have the right to select their own governments without fear of external influence.
That relationship has evolved over the years, and, in many ways, we are closer today than ever before. President Obama has been vocal in his admiration for Sweden’s economic strength and environmental progress. He and Vice President Biden each visited Stockholm, where they reinforced in person how valuable a partner Sweden is. And Sweden has been a constructive partner to the United States and an important investor in our economy.
The United States and Sweden have, for decades, nurtured our trade relationship, working together on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and agreeing to open a preclearance facility at Arlanda that will be a tangible expression of our commitment to strengthening business ties.
We are both committed to peace and stability in the Baltic region, and signed a Statement of Intent in Washington last year that lays the groundwork for even greater security cooperation. Sweden and the United States have stood together against Russian aggression in Ukraine. We share a commitment to addressing global issues together, from development issues in Africa to stability operations in Afghanistan. And we are working together on the “Cancer Moonshot,” an unprecedented initiative to make progress in the fight against that terrible disease.
Our cooperation has been powerful not only for the good that we have done together, but also because of the example we set for the rest of the world: countries of good will are most effective when they work together. Our relationship is a shining example of the transatlantic cooperation that has brought unprecedented security and prosperity to the United States and Europe.
People ask me how the U.S./Swedish relationship will change without President Obama in office. I think a better way to look at is to think about what will stay the same. Leaders come and go. Priorities change. But the United States’ institutional interest in effective multilateral organizations and a prosperous, secure, Europe will stay the same. And, of course, the United States and Sweden will continue to share a broad, deep relationship rooted in our common values.
What are those common values? We agree that there is no place for intolerance, and that bigotry and misogyny are outmoded ways of thinking. We agree that freedom of expression and an independent press are critical parts of civil society. We agree that people should have the right to select their own governments without fear of external influence.
These bedrock values—inclusion, freedom, and democracy— are non-negotiable. And good policy, whether in the United States, Sweden, or elsewhere, emerges from those values.
This doesn’t mean that the United States and Sweden will never disagree. We will and we should; speaking frankly and openly to each other about our interests is necessary so that we fully understand one another. But even as we debate our differences, we must never negotiate away our values.
As Sweden contemplates the end of the Obama administration, how will it adjust? I am confident that Sweden and the United States will find common ground consistent with our shared values, as we have for centuries.
When the Swedish ambassador started negotiations with Ben Franklin, he said that he hoped that it would be remembered that Sweden was the first European country to offer its friendship to the United States without being asked. Rest assured—the United States has not forgotten, and we never will forget.
As for me, when I return to my home in the United States, I’ll take with me plenty of souvenirs of my time in Sweden—a Dala horse, works by Swedish artists, photographs of the Stockholm waterfront, and more.
But my memories will be even more vivid—”Bilderna starkare i minnet än när man ser dem direkt,” as Tomas Tranströmer put it in Samlade dikter. Flying faster than the speed of sound in a Gripen fighter. Riding in a red convertible in the Stockholm Pride parade. Walking the medieval streets of Visby during Almedalen. Sailing the cool blue waters of the archipelago. Watching the Northern Lights dance in the sky over Abisko.
And I will always remember the people of Sweden, true to their values and hopeful for a better future. Debattartikel Azita Raji, USA:s ambassadör i Sverige fram till klockan 18:00, fredag 20 januari: English orginal Azita Raji, US ambassador to Sweden until 6 PM, Friday January, 20th 2017: Läs fler artiklar. Till DN Debatt
DN Debatt.21 januari 2017
”Tolerans, demokrati och frihet inte förhandlingsbart”
”Inclusion, freedom, and democracy are non-negotiable values”
Azita Raji, USA:s ambassadör i Sverige fram till klockan 18:00, fredag 20 januari:
Azita Raji, US ambassador to Sweden until 6 PM, Friday January, 20th 2017:
Läs fler artiklar. Till DN Debatt