Article from Ministry of Defence

Serious security policy situation in focus at informal meeting of EU defence ministers

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Minister for Defence Peter Hultqvist took part in the informal meeting of EU defence ministers in Brest, France on 12–13 January. The meeting was dominated by the serious security policy situation, with focus on the situation in and around Ukraine. In addition, the influence of state and non-state actors in areas of operation such as Mali was discussed, along with the continued work on the EU Strategic Compass. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell took part in the meeting. UN Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix also took part via video link.

Florence Parly and Peter Hultqvist standing next to each other, Parly is to the left.  In the background the French and the Swedish flags.
Minister for the Armed Forces of France Florence Parly and Minister for Defence of Sweden Peter Hultqvist. Photo: Ministry of Defence of Sweden

The meeting began on 12 January with a general discussion with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and UN Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix. Both the security situation and the influence of state and non-state actors in areas of operations were discussed. The common view was that the EU and other international actors must take cohesive action to prevent the Wagner group becoming established in Mali. Sweden is deeply concerned about the reports that the Wagner group is conducting operations in Mali.

Security policy situation in Europe

The serious security policy situation in Europe, with focus on the situation in and around Ukraine and Russia’s external actions, as well as the meetings that the US, NATO and the OSCE had with Russia during the week, dominated the informal defence minister meeting.

“Russia’s actions threaten the European security order, which is unacceptable. The European security order is not negotiable,” says Mr Hultqvist and continues:

“International law must be respected and complied with. This includes the right of every country to make its own security policy choices. Our strategy is to build security together with others. Today we are a respected partner that helps to deliver security. What we do is our own choice and is based on decisions taken by the Swedish Riksdag. This is how it will remain. On this point there is no room for compromise,” says Mr Hultqvist.

Security and defence issues related to space

Issues related to space were also on the agenda. Sweden supports the continued efforts to produce an EU strategy for space security and defence, and looks forward to moving the process forward during the Swedish Presidency of the EU in spring 2023.

Continued discussion on the EU Strategic Compass

The meeting concluded on 13 January with a joint working lunch at which the defence and foreign ministers discussed the work ahead on the EU Strategic Compass. Sweden welcomes the development of the Strategic Compass to strengthen EU security and defence policy cooperation. Sweden wants to see a strong EU that can take more responsibility for its own security, but also emphasises the importance of cooperation with partners to the EU and maintaining a strong transatlantic link. The Strategic Compass is expected to be adopted in spring 2022.