Sweden wanted Russia out of Council of Europe: WikiLeaks

1st December 2010, Comments 0 comments

Sweden wanted to kick Russia out of the Council of Europe following the 2008 Russian-Georgian war and had US support to do so, according to a US diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks this week.

"Sweden, as Chair of the Council of Europe, will seek to solicit support from other Council of Europe members against Russia and in the next few months will attempt to vote Russia out," an August 2008 cable from the US embassy in Stockholm read.

"This is still in the early planning stages, but is a current goal of (Foreign Minister) Bildt," the cable read.

"Current thinking is to use Sweden's chairmanship of the Council of Europe (until Nov. 2008) to mobilise support to kick Russia out of the Council of Europe," the note continued.

A spokeswoman of Carl Bildt, who remains Sweden's foreign minister, refused to comment on the cable when contacted by AFP.

Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt also refused to comment on the cable, telling the TT news agency that "I cannot judge this. I don't know what it (the cable) says or what Carl had in mind."

According to the document, Sweden, Britain, Belgium, Denmark, the Baltic states, Slovenia, Slovakia and Bulgaria wanted "a strong statement against Russian action."

Those countries disagreed with France, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Malta and Cyprus, for whom the priority was to "stop the suffering and ensure the ceasefire is respected."

Russian troops invaded a part of Georgia in August 2008 to push back Georgian forces who were seeking to retake control of breakaway region South Ossetia, and they still occupy 20 percent of Georgia's territory.

At the time, Bildt evoked Adolf Hitler in condemning Russia's attacks on Georgia over the breakaway region, saying the protection of Russians there did not justify the assault.

The conflict had chilled relations between Russia and NATO, and between Sweden and Russia.

© 2010 AFP

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