STOCKHOLM, July 3. /TASS/. Sweden needs to normalize relations with Russia, said Viktor Tatarintsev, ambassador to the Scandinavian nation in an interview with the Dagens Nyheter newspaper.
"It is difficult to talk about normal security both for Sweden and the entire Europe in absence of normal relations with Russia. You must talk to us. And if you don’t understand this, this is your problem, not ours," he noted. "Swedes will not feel like they live in normal conditions until they improve their relations with Russia."
He recalled that Russia repeatedly made attempts to improve relations with Sweden, expressing its readiness to discuss issues of security and easing tensions, adding that he does not understand what prevents such a development.
"Olof Palme [Prime Minister of Sweden, assassinated in 1986], definitely advocated a dialogue; the same was true for the bourgeois parties. Of course, there were serious crises, such as the U-137 [a Soviet submarine that grounded near Karlskrona in 1981]. But there has always been willingness for discussion. Today, the politicians keep automatically referring to the events in Crimea and Ukraine," the Russian diplomat continued.
Coverage of Russia in media
The diplomat expressed his regret not only regarding the Swedish authorities’ unwillingness to conduct a dialogue with Moscow, but also about the one-sided negative coverage of Russia in the Swedish media.
"When adoption of a new Constitution in Russia is being presented as a ‘constitutional coup,’ I think Sweden and the Swedish journalists should scrutinize their own conditions. It was only during the 2018 general election that Sweden invited foreign observers for the first time ever, which, importantly, happened owing to Russia’s steps in the OSCE," Tatarintsev said.
He also called the discussion of the "Russsian misinformation and influence operations, directed against Sweden" stupid and laughable. He recalled that ahead of the 2018 elections a lot was said about how Russia would seek to influence them, but later the prime minister acknowledged that no such attempts were made.
"Then why Swedish politicians and the media draw the attention of the Swedish people to non-existent threats?" the envoy questioned.