Sweden has published online the address that Foreign Minister Margot Wallström planned to give in Cairo on Monday.
This is the part – the only part – where she touches on human rights and women’s rights, in a way that Saudi Arabia calls “offensive” and “blatant interference in its internal affairs.”
I include the first three paragraphs only so that you can see what led up to the human rights and women’s rights part.
Democracy, security and economic development are interrelated. Without progress in one of these fields, sustainable results in the other cannot be expected.
Inclusive socio-economic development is particularly important. Educational and economic empowerment is the best antidote to radicalisation and terrorist recruitment.
Employment is crucial, especially for our youth. Youth unemployment is a key challenge, in Europe and in this region.
Human rights are a priority in Swedish foreign policy. Freedom of association, assembly, religion and expression are not only fundamental rights and important tools in the creation of vibrant societies. They are indispensable in the fight against extremism and radicalisation. So is a vibrant civil society.
Yesterday was International Women’s Day. This is a day to celebrate women’s achievements, recognise challenges, and focus attention on women’s rights, women’s representation and their adequate resources. Our experience is that women’s rights do not only benefit women, but society as a whole.
More than 20 years ago, in 1994, the International Conference on Population and Development met here in Cairo to discuss various issues, including education of women and protection of women from all forms of violence, including female genital mutilation and sexual harassment. Many of these issues are still very much in play today and I urge you to contribute to upholding the agreements made here in Cairo 20 years ago.
Not much interference in internal affairs there that I can see. It’s quite revealing that Saudi Arabia considers such a minimal statement an outrage, and that it prevented her from delivering the address at all.