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30 years of diplomatic relations between Sweden and the Baltic nations

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Introduction by Gunnar Hökmark, president of the Stockholm Free World Forum and former Member of European Parliament at seminar in Swedish Parliament the 16th of September 2021 at the occasion of the celebration of 30 years of diplomatic relations between Sweden and the Baltic nations who restored their independence in the year of 1991

Herr Talman, Mr Speaker, Speakers of the Parliaments of the free, independent and sovereign nations of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania,  our neighbors and friends, Yours excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, 

When looking around today, the world looks depressing in many ways, unstable and in disorder where you also can find signs of the Free World under retreat. In a digitalized world dark forces can project threats and attacks of various kinds in all directions and over the big seas as well as the small ones. Geographical distances are of course still of relevance but by no means as dividing as in the past. 

The old truth, that Swedish children learned in a well-known TV-program “Here is where you are, there is where you are not” is no longer valid. Here is there and there is here. 

But when one takes another look at the world of today we can see some much more important signs giving us a much more positive picture. Globalization and market economy have defeated poverty in region after region, not that there is no longer poverty, but that it is not any more the given destiny for those parts of the world that for decades were looked upon as deemed to poverty. Not only the so-called Third World but also the former Second World has joined the development to growth, prosperity and ever ongoing innovations affecting everything from fighting poverty to climate change. 

Dictatorships are today stuck with societies that with few exceptions are forced to be more open than they were three decades ago, and therefore more vulnerable for the dangers that open societies, freedom, democracy and rule of law means to them. That’s why we can see them so scared, from Minsk to Moscow and from Hongkong to Beijing. The brutalities we see, the crack downs, the imprisonments and the prohibition of what they call extremists are nothing but the signs of scared dictators knowing they live on borrowed time. I don’t think, for example, that Lukashenko has any pension scheme that provides him with optimism. 

They rule on borrowed time, they know that they can fall and they know that the forces of democracy in the long perspective are much stronger than their brutal troops of repression. 

They know that today very much because of our Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian neighbors. You all proved that in the conflict between right and might, right, David can defeat Goliath with the message of democracy and freedom. 

The Monday movement once gave an international platform for the Baltic fight for freedom, we gave you our support as citizens to citizens and your voice was heard in a way that no one could claim that the question of your freedom was a domestic Soviet affair. 

That’s where we are today, with the knowledge that democracy could and can defeat the rule of despotism. They know that and we know that and the suppressed peoples know that. 

So let’s do it again, 

Give a platform for the Belarusian opposition all over European Union, support the struggle for freedom in Russia and give the opposition opportunities and voice all over our continent, 

let’s be clear to China that criticism of repression and brutalities in the defense of our universal rights belong to the preconditions of free trade and the global economy, 

that international agreements must be respected all over the world, in Hongkong as at the borders of Ukraine, 

Let’s clarify that this is not a threat of violence or anything  but just the new normal of the world of today, if you want to be a part of this world you must be a part of the rules. 

Let’s support those who are standing up for democracy and let’s be clear that we support those member nations of the EU that are in the front of doing so! 

The world only looks depressing if we are obsessed with the forces of brutality and forget the strength of democracies. Now is the time to see the strength of democracy and form a new era of freedom.