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THE UNITED NATIONS, October 31. /TASS/. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has taken notice of Sweden’s move to recognize Palestine as a state, but declined to comment on it, as this decision is left to the discretion of a UN member state, Ban’s spokesperson Stephane Dujarric told reporters on Thursday, answering a TASS question.
“The issue of recognition of one state by another is an issue that is within the purview of member states themselves. The Secretary-General is, of course, very much aware of Sweden’s decision; but, again, it’s a decision made by member states; it’s not the one that he will comment on,” Dujarric said.
On Thursday, Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom announced at a special news conference that Sweden recognized the Palestinian State. According to her, this step will promote peaceful settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and facilitate the solution by making the negotiating parties more equal.
“There is a territory, a people and government,” she told reporters in Stockholm, adding that Sweden was the 135th country in the world to recognize a Palestinian state.
It is the third Western European nation to do so, after Malta and Cyprus. Some Eastern European countries recognized a Palestinian state during the Cold War.
Israel was quick to condemn Sweden's announcement, with Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman describing it as “a miserable decision that strengthens the extremist elements and Palestinian rejectionism.” “It's a shame that the government of Sweden chose to take a declarative step that only causes harm,” he added. Israel also recalled its ambassador from Stockholm for consultations.
Sweden is the first county in EU modern history to recognize the Palestinian State. In the late 1980s, Palestine was recognized by Bulgaria, Romania, Poland, Cyprus, Malta, the Czech Republic and Hungary.