- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 28, 2009

EUROPEAN AGENDA

Sweden is promoting an ambitious agenda for its presidency of the European Union by promising to pursue climate measures, combat the global financial crisis and prepare for EU membership for Croatia and, more controversially, Turkey — all within the next six months.

“Sweden will work to strengthen the EU as a global actor, promoting peace, development, democracy and human rights and to strengthen the partnership between the United States and Europe,” said Swedish Ambassador Jonas Hafstrom, discussing Sweden’s presidency at a recent news conference in Washington.

He noted that Sweden will hold the presidency during the U.N. Climate Conference in Copenhagen in December and will push for a “global, ambitious and comprehensive agreement” to reduce greenhouses gases.

“We are committed to reducing our carbon emissions by 20 percent by 2020, and we are ready to go to 30 percent, if a global agreement with a fair sharing of the burden is reached,” he added, referring to big developing countries such as China and India that have refused to submit to carbon limits.

“Achieving a global climate agreement is a monumental task that demands determined political leadership everywhere.”

The global financial crisis is striking everywhere among the 27-member nations of the European Union, and Mr. Hafstrom warned that the European Union’s own forecast is bleak.

“According to the EU Commission’s forecast, the deficit in the EU will exceed 80 percent of GDP next year,” he said, referring to the union’s collective gross domestic product. “We cannot close our eyes and pretend that this is not a problem.”

Mr. Hafstrom said one of Sweden’s priorities is implementation of the “EU recovery plan to restore confidence in the financial markets and stabilize the economy” and the creation of “new rules” to oversee the markets and limit the increase in unemployment. The average unemployment rate is running at nearly 9 percent, but it is as high as 17 percent in Spain. Sweden’s own jobless rate was 9.8 percent in June.

The ambassador added that another priority for Sweden is continuing the expansion of the EU, even though some European officials cite “enlargement fatigue” as a reason to reject new membership.

Turkey is the most controversial among nations involved in some state of membership negotiations. Any EU member can block a new nation from joining, and France already has expressed opposition to Turkey.

“Continuing the enlargement process is of strategic importance,” Mr. Hafstrom said. “Progress in the accessions negotiations with Turkey and Croatia will be a priority for Sweden’s presidency.”

BORDER DANGER

Mexican Ambassador Arturo Sarukhan says his government “deplores” the killing of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Robert Rosas by suspected Mexican smugglers trying to bring illegal aliens into the United States.

“The Mexican government … extends its deepest condolences to his family, friends and colleagues,” the ambassador said.

Mexican authorities on Friday arrested four men in connection with the murder of Mr. Rosas, who was fatally shot Thursday near Campo, Calif., south of San Diego. Police said the suspects were trying to smuggle 21 people into the United States.

“This is a tragic example of the violence we keep facing at our common border, as President [Felipe] Calderon continues to roll back transnational organized crime,” Mr. Sarukhan said, adding that the shooting “underscores the need for both of our countries to keep working as full partners to guarantee the safety and security of those living on both sides of our border communities.”

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail [email protected] washingtontimes.com.

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