As part of The Perspective op-ed series on all Swedish parliamentary parties, this text is a contribution by the Liberals’ Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Fredrik Malm, and does not necessarily reflect the views of UPF Lund and The Perspective.
Liberal foreign policies aim to strengthen the liberal democracy in the world. In a broad sense, this means that Sweden will work for reforms to strengthen democracy, protect human rights and build sustainable democratic institutions.
Specifically, this means that the Liberals want to see increased support for democrats running in authoritarian and totalitarian states, we want to see increased support for countries that are at the crossroads to choose the democratic path and we strongly protest against populists trying to dismantle the rule of law in free states.
In a liberal foreign policy, the protection of vulnerable individuals and groups is also central, for example, LGBTQ people, women and girls in patriarchal societies, religious minorities threatened by – for example – IS/Daesh or the military in Burma.
There are two strong reasons for advocating for a liberal foreign policy. The first is that countries that choose liberal democracy as a social model succeed better than the alternatives. The combination of individual freedom, private ownership and a progressive outlook on social issues creates societies that are both growing economically and are better able to cope with difficult crises. Sweden is a good example of this.
The second is that it is impossible to build a democratic society if there are no democrats. The fact that individuals stand for democratic and liberal values is the very raw material for building a democratic society. This is precisely why investment in education is so important, as well as promoting increased tolerance between people of different backgrounds, ethnicity and religion. For the Liberal Party’s foreign policy, these principles mean a number of concrete positions.
We want to strengthen and deepen EU cooperation, which is the most important arena for Swedish foreign policy. We want to strengthen cooperation with countries in Eastern Europe and the Balkans so that more countries can join the EU in the future. We want Sweden to apply for membership in NATO. We want to see clearer regulations to prevent resource-heavy dictatorships from buying critical infrastructure in Europe. We want to sharpen the international sanction systems and introduce a so-called Magnitsky act (law aimed at punishing human rights abusers, editor’s note) in Sweden and the EU. We want to strengthen democratic forces in Latin America and strongly condemn both the Communist Alba project and reactionary right-wing forces.
We give our resolute support and solidarity to the democracy of Taiwan and the protests in Hong Kong. Liberals look with great concern at developments in the Middle East where religious dictatorships such as Iran and Saudi Arabia are trying to create hegemony and push the entire region towards ruin. Sweden and Europe must build collaborations with individuals, political parties and organisations working for democracy, women’s rights and a secular society.
Last, but not least: With leaders in the world like Trump, Xi Jinping, Putin, Erdogan, Duterte, Maduro, Khamenei and Kim Jong-Un, the strong tide of liberal values and democratic reforms is ebbing. Therefore, it is especially important to protect liberal parties and their values in the time through which we are now living.