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Russian, Swedish foreign ministers to discuss bilateral relations

The foreign ministers will discuss the Russian-Swedish relations, cooperation of Russia and Sweden in regional structures in Northern Europe and in international affairs

MOSCOW, February 21. /TASS/. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will meet with his Swedish counterpart Margot Wallstrom on Tuesday to discuss bilateral cooperation and interaction in the international arena, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday.

Wallstrom is in Moscow on a working visit at the invitation of the Russian Foreign Minister.

"During the talks, the foreign ministers will discuss relevant issues of Russian-Swedish bilateral relations, cooperation of Russia and Sweden in regional structures in Northern Europe and in international affairs," Russia’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement on the eve of the visit.

The Russian party proceeds from the fact that the difference in estimates of certain events should not be an obstacle to dialogue and constructive search for solutions to the current issues.

Current state of bilateral relations

The Foreign Ministry marked Russia's interest in developing relations with Sweden and noted that mutual high-level visits in 2009-2011 had a positive impact on the development of cooperation.

Thanks to development of Russian-Swedish trade, economic and investment cooperation a record figure of turnover was achieved in 2012 - $10 bln.

At the same time Russia’s Foreign Ministry marks deterioration of relations in connection with the events in Ukraine. The conflict in Ukraine prompted Stockholm to scale down Russian-Swedish contacts between the heads of ministries and departments and to suspend inter-parliamentary cooperation.

Nevertheless, Russia hopes that different stances on a number of issues will not become an obstacle to further dialogue, the Ministry said.

The situation with the apartment house of Russia’s trade mission in Sweden remains a serious aggravating factor in the Russian-Swedish relations.

In September 2014, by the decision of the Swedish judicial authorities the building was sold at the auction to Swedish company CSL Fastighets AB, which was a violation of international law. Russia does not recognize the actions of the Swedish authorities regarding the building of its trade mission and demands that the Swedish government should fully implement its obligations and to protect the premises of the Russian diplomatic mission.

Areas of cooperation

Russia interacts with Sweden in various international organizations, including the United Nations. On January 1 2017, Sweden years became a member of the UN Security Council.

The two countries cooperate through regional structures in Northern Europe and in the Arctic, including the Council of Baltic Sea States, the Barents /Euro-Arctic Council and the Arctic Council.

Trade and economic cooperation traditionally form an important basis of Russian-Swedish relations, the Ministry noted.

"In spite of the anti-Russian sanctions, the Swedish business community is still interested in the Russian market. The main areas (of cooperation -TASS) include projects in the field of transport engineering, automotive and pharmaceutical industries."

Investments of Swedish business in the Russian economy remain high.

To date, the total volume of investments of Swedish companies in the Russian economy is about $15 bln, while the number of jobs exceeds 30,000.

However, since 2013, the volume of mutual trade has been declining, which is caused by a drop in oil prices and the negative impact of the sanctions policy of the EU and Russia’s anti-sanction restrictive measures.

This area of ··cooperation is discussed in the framework of the intergovernmental Russian-Swedish Supervisory Committee on Trade and Economic Cooperation.

On November 24, 2016, at the 6th annual Russian-Swedish Investment Forum in Stockholm the Swedish party expressed readiness to organize a meeting of representatives of the Supervisory Committee - Russia’s Industry and Trade Minister Denis Manturov and Sweden’s Minister for EU Affairs and Trade Ann Linde.