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Sweden’s foreign minister on relations with Russia: It takes two to tango

Since 2014, bilateral contacts between Stockholm and Moscow have gotten rarer as Sweden has been largely supporting anti-Russian sanctions
Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom Wolfgang Kumm/dpa via AP
Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom
© Wolfgang Kumm/dpa via AP

STOCKHOLM, June 11. /TASS/. Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom has described Stockholm’s policies towards Russia as ‘two-way’ and compared the relations between the two states to dancing the tango.

In an interview with TASS, she said that on the one hand, the country is determined to support the EU’s anti-Russian sanctions, yet on the other hand, it seeks to maintain direct contacts with Moscow.

"Two-way relations are like dancing the tango - one step forward, two or three to the side - that’s how dancers move - sometimes they are a bit unpredictable. And as for us [Russia and Sweden], we have a very dramatic dance," she said.

The foreign minister stressed that Sweden will continue supporting the EU’s sanction policy.

"But we also need contacts between people, we need political contacts, direct contacts. So we can talk not about countries, but with countries, governments and leaders. We do it, although it’s not always easy," Vallstrom stated.

The top diplomat underscored that there is enormous interaction between Swedes and Russians.

"These are contacts between organizations, scientists - in those areas, where both countries are interested in continuing contacts. We strive for it and we have different formats for this -the Baltic and Arctic [formats] - that work well. We regularly meet with Sergey [Lavrov - Russian Foreign Minister] at different venues. We talk and joke," the minister pointed out.

In May, Russia expelled two Swedish embassy officials in response to Stockholm’s refusal to issue visas to Russian diplomats.

Together with Poland and the Baltic states, Sweden is the most fervent supporter of anti-Russian sanctions. Since 2014, bilateral contacts between Stockholm and Moscow have gotten rarer.

In 2017, Vallstrom held talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

In April this year, the first meeting of Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven and Russian President Vladimir Putin was held at the Arctic Forum in St. Petersburg.