Sweden Officially Recognizes Palestine as State: Foreign Ministry

The government of Sweden on Thursday officially recognized Palestine as a state, Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom said.

MOSCOW, October 30 (RIA Novosti) – Sweden can no longer postpone recognizing the Palestinian state and hopes other countries will follow its move, Swedish Foreign Affairs Minister Margot Wallstrom said Thursday.

"The government of Sweden has decided to recognize the state of Palestine. We have decided to do so on the basis of the fact that the criteria of international law are fulfilled. There is a territory, a people and a government," Wallstrom told reporters.

"Not to recognize Palestine because of occupation would be against the principle of international law about no fruits of aggression," she added.

Sweden knew there would be criticism, especially from Israel and the United States, the minister said, but the move is not to complicate international relations. "We have underlined that we wish to keep good relations with both Israel and the United States."

"We hope that this will be received in a balanced and constructive way by Israel. We are hoping that our excellent cooperation will continue," Wallstrom stated.

While some may claim the move comes too early, it is, in fact, too late, Wallstrom argued. She stated that Sweden sees no reason to postpone the recognition of the Palestinian state and noted that it has previously recognized the sovereignty of states that did not have control over all its territories, such as Croatia and Kosovo.

The recognition of the Palestine will be followed by increased financial and humanitarian support to the country, the minister said.

Wallstrom stressed that Sweden is to support "moderate" Palestinian powers and underlined the importance of battling corruption and strengthening the position of women in Palestine. She strongly rejected claims that Sweden is "picking sides" in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and stated that Sweden "is on the side of the peace process" and will address the same demands to the state of Palestine as it does to Israel.

She noted that the European Union members are divided in their views on this issue and that it is up to each government to make a decision. Sweden hopes that its move will inspire other countries to follow suit, Wallstrom said.

Earlier on Thursday, Wallstrom announced in a column to the Dagens Nyheter newspaper that the Swedish government is to officially recognize the Palestinian state. Sweden's recognition would help Israel and Palestine "live side by side in peaceful coexistence" and confirm the Palestinian peoples" right to self-governance, the foreign minister wrote.

Sweden becomes the 135th country to recognize a sovereign Palestine. Most European Union members and the United States have not given their official recognition. Some EU members such as Hungary, Poland and Slovakia recognized the Palestinian state before joining the Union.

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