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Sweden to close one embassy and four consulates-general | regeringen.se

[MISC, Friday, 24 July 2009 07:36 No Comment]

[ Ministry for Foreign Affairs] The Government today decided to close Sweden’s Embassy in Colombo and the Consulates-General in Kaliningrad, Canton, Los Angeles and New York.

These measures are a necessary part of balancing the Ministry for Foreign Affairs budget and adapting it to its allocated appropriations. The Swedish Foreign Service changes along with the rest of the world and Sweden has opened 30 embassies and consulates and closed 43 others since 1990.

"When I took office as Minister for Foreign Affairs in autumn 2006, the Ministry had a budget deficit of over SEK 50 million. The deficit had been built up over several years and the previous government maintained activities that had no financing. Of course it is an untenable position to be pushing this deficit in front of us. We must ensure that we have an effective and professional Foreign Service within the existing budgetary framework. With these changes, we will balance the budget and at the same time renew working methods," says Minister for Foreign Affairs Carl Bildt.

Alongside the changes in the Foreign Service, the number of staff is to be reduced by 100 over the period 2008-2010 and the Foreign Service’s property costs are to be reduced by SEK 50 million.

During this electoral period, we have upgraded our presence in our neighbouring countries to the east and in the conflict area stretching from Pakistan to the countries around the Horn of Africa. Since 2006 the Government has opened new embassies in Minsk, Kabul and Khartoum and re-opened the embassy in Baghdad. We now also have a diplomatic presence in Tbilisi and Chisinau. In addition, the Delegation to NATO has been made into an independent authority.

The Embassy in Colombo

The closure of the Embassy in Colombo is to be completed by 31 March 2010 at the latest. In connection with the Government’s review of development cooperation in 2007 a decision was made to end Sweden’s bilateral development assistance to Sri Lanka. Existing development cooperation agreements will be seen through to their conclusion. The aim is to be able to open an honorary consulate that, in cooperation with the Embassy in New Delhi, can provide service to Swedish citizens and companies. Visa services will be managed within the framework of Schengen cooperation.

The Consulate-General in Kaliningrad

The closure of the Consulate-General in Kaliningrad is to be completed by 31 October 2009 at the latest. The possibility of maintaining a Swedish presence is being investigated. Visa services will be managed within the framework of Schengen cooperation.

The Consulate-General in Canton

The closure of the Consulate-General in Canton is to be completed by 30 November 2009 at the latest. The intention is that responsibility for Swedish relations with southern China and consular activities will be transferred to the Embassy in Beijing. Visa services will be managed within the framework of Schengen cooperation.

The Consulate-General in Los Angeles

The closure of the Consulate-General in Los Angeles is to be completed by 31 December 2009 at the latest. The Embassy in Washington will take over responsibility for the nine honorary consulates that currently report to the Consulate-General in Los Angeles. The Ministry is working on finding a suitable way of organising a future honorary consulate in California. Discussions on how best to manage visa services within the framework of Schengen cooperation are under way.

The Consulate-General in New York

The closure of the Consulate-General in New York is to be completed by 31 January 2010 at the latest. We intend to open an honorary consulate-general in New York to provide certain services to Swedish citizens. The major part of current consular activities and responsibility for the 17 honorary consulates that report to the Consulate-General will be taken over by the Embassy in Washington. Trade issues will continue to be managed by the Swedish Trade Council and the Invest in Sweden Agency in New York and the Embassy in Washington. Swedish promotion activities will not disappear entirely, but rather will be conducted in other forms. For example, the Embassy will be strengthened so as to be able to carry out promotion activities in New York.

Even if Sweden does not have an embassy or consulate in a given place or country, its aim is always to find effective ways of promoting and safeguarding Swedish interests. The Swedish presence can take many different forms.

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