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Saudi Defence delegation visit to Swedish defence exhibition raises anger

Friday, 14 October 2011
As recently as last year, Sweden exported weapons to Saudi Arabia, a strong anti-democratic state, and right now the head of the Saudis military is visiting the country. This has led the Swedish Peace and Arbitration Society to react strongly. “This is one of the world's worst dictatorships,” some officials were heard said.

A contract for anti-tank missiles from Saab Bofors was signed in 2005 and delivered in 2010. This week a delegation from the Saudi Navy is on visit to Sweden. The program includes visits to the naval base in Karlskrona, the muskets in Stockholm and the Saab’s defence factory in Jarfalla. Also Kockums and tank manufacturer Hägglunds will also exhibit their products the dictatorship’s delegation. The Saudis are said to be particularly interested in monitoring the sea.

The visit is initiated by the new Swedish Defence Export Agency.
“We have agreement with some thirty countries. We visit them and they visit us,” says Sofia Karlberg, CIO at the Defence Export Agency to Swedish television.
Asked if Saudi Arabia will buy arms from Sweden, she said that “We do not know. It is not decided by us.”


In the Arab spring, military resources from Saudi Arabia flew to crack down the popular uprising in Bahrain. This is one of the reasons why both the Swedish military cooperation agreement with Saudi Arabia and the ongoing military mission (visits of the Saudis ) has made the Swedish Peace and Arbitration Society to react strongly.’

“Saudi Arabia is one of the world's worst dictatorships. It is incredibly serious that Sweden arms such a regime,” says Anna Ek, Chairman of the Swedish Peace and Arbitration Society to Swedish television news.

Yesterday, she went into the Saab Technologies in Jarfalla, where the Saudi delegation was visiting, and handed a protest letter.

Swedish law prohibits arms exports, but there may be exceptions to the ban if it does not conflict with Swedish foreign policy. There are Inspectorates for specific products that give permission, pursuant to the Export Control Council. It is such a state that in the current situation makes arms sales to Saudi Arabia possible.

In the Swedish Riksdag or Parliament in May this year the Foreign Affairs Committee reached an agreement to strengthen the legislation on the export of weapons to non-democratic states.

“We are waiting for the investigation for that,” says Sofia Karlberg at the Defence Export Agency.
By Team

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