11:05 GMT30 October 2020
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    Sweden's “feminist foreign policy” pursued by its previous Foreign Minister Margot Wallström has sparked a lot of international criticism and resulted in badly damaged relations with several countries, including both Israel and Arab states.

    Ann Linde has been named Sweden's new foreign minister, following the resignation of Margot Wallström, who is credited with masterminding Sweden's "feminist" foreign policy.

    “Ann Linde has worked with foreign policy for many years, she has solid knowledge and a large network of contacts all over the world”, Prime Minister Stefan Löfven said, presenting the new apointee, as quoted by Aftonbladet.

    ​Like her predecessor, Linde is a veteran Social Democrat. Most recently she held the position of minister for foreign trade.

    “I feel that my role now is to bring forward a foreign policy that contributes to peace, freedom and security. We will continue to pursue a feminist foreign policy”, Ann Linde said, paying respects to Wallström. “I have just launched a feminist trade policy myself”, she declared, suggesting that women contribute to more sustainable agreements.

    Unlike her predecessor, who was no stranger to international controversy, Linde has maintained a lower profile. Still, she attracted criticism for wearing a headscarf during a government visit to Tehran in 2017.

    ​Addressing the criticism, Linde said that she is prepared to go against her convictions for the sake of diplomacy, adding that it's the price you have to pay.

    Linde admitted that one of the difficult tasks facing her is to improve Swedish relations with Israel, which have been very strained, not least as a direct result of the her predecessor's feminist policy.

    “I think it is very important that Sweden has good relations with both Israel and Palestine. I was recently there and talked to many politicians that I know for many years on both sides. I really want to work for that”, Linde said.

    Linde's appointment has been hailed as a wise move even by the Social Democrats traditional rivals, the centre-right Moderate Party.

    “So far I have seen Ann Linde a serious free trade friend in her work, so I believe, given the alternatives Stefan Löfven had, it was a wise choice”, Moderate leader Ulf Kristersson said.

    Linde was announced after Wallström stepped down last Friday from the post she has held since 2014, citing family reasons.

    ​The departing foreign minister gained international notoriety by damaging relations with Israel and the Arab world alike. In 2014, Wallström's very first step in office was to recognise Palestine as a state, which immediately soured Stockholm's relations with Israel. Subsequently, Wallström was declared persona non grata in Israel for backing an investigation into whether Palestinian assailants were victims of “extrajudicial killings”.

    She also sparked a diplomatic spat with Saudi Arabia by slamming its human rights record and calling its methods “medieval”.

    Morocco became yet another point of friction, as Sweden moved to recognise Western Sahara, a disputed former Spanish province partially under Moroccan control, as an independent republic. However, the Swedish government later reversed the recognition, following political and economic pressure from Rabat.

    Wallström also came under fire for what Ulf Cahn of the pro-Israel organisation Keren Hayesod called “uncritical support of the Palestinian authority and UNRWA”. Sweden is one of the largest net contributors to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, edging out even the US and donating five times more than its neighbour Denmark and a whole 12 times more than Finland.

    ​Wallström and Löfven were also criticised for never making good on the previous promise to recognise the Armenian genocide of 1915.


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    feminism, Margot Wallström, Ann Linde, Sweden
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