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Sweden expresses concern over ‘repeated dangerous maneuvers vs PH vessels’ in WPS

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By Veronica Uy

Without naming China, Sweden’s Defense Minister Pal Jonson has expressed his concern over its “repeated dangerous maneuvers against Philippine vessels” in the West Philippine Sea.

“These acts put human lives at risk. They undermine regional stability and international norms, and they threaten the security in the region and beyond. These are not only threats to your national security, but they’re threats to our common global security,” Jonson said at Sweden’s National Day celebration Thursday night.

“The Euro-Atlantic and the Indo-Pacific regions have never been more interlinked than they are today. As a trade and innovation-driven economy, Sweden is reliant on the excellence and constant development of our industry, and on good trading relations with partners around the world. Therefore, safe sea lines of communication and freedom of navigation is a core interest for Sweden,” he added.

The defense minister said Sweden is embarking on defense initiatives in the Indo-Pacific region and is offering to partner with the Philippines on security matters.

“Sweden is just about to launch its defense policies strategy for the Indo-Pacific. We’re looking for enhanced defense dialogues with partners in the region,” he said.

“We also understand that to get peace through strength, peace comes through strength. And that’s why we’re both dedicated in investing into our armed forces in order to strive to continue living in peace, and it’s an investment into our security and freedom. So peace and security have indeed, for a long time, been a priority area for the Swedish-Philippines relations,” he added.

Jonson said he has already met with his Australian counterpart, Richard Miles, and will host his Japanese counterpart, Minoru Kihara, in Sweden in July.

“And today, me and the Secretary had excellent discussions about deepening the collaboration and cooperation between Sweden and the Philippines. Our own forces are also engaging with regional partners, and joining regional exercises, adding LNO (liaison officers) to regional commands, and sending officers to higher education in the region are some of the possibilities that we’re looking into right now,” he said.

“And we’re also ready to deepen our collaboration in areas together with the Philippines when it comes to defense innovation, when it comes to cyber, when it comes to space, if the Philippines so wishes,” he added.

The defense minister noted that the over 40 Swede companies in the Philippines encompass many sectors—retail, infrastructure, green transition, defense, cybersecurity, and space.

“As you all know, the Ikea store here in Manila is actually the largest one in the whole world, and I think that’s a strong statement and testament of how close our relations are between our countries. I think they’re absolutely fantastic,” he said.

For her part, Sweden’s Ambassador to the Philippines Annika Thunborg bade farewell to the diplomatic community.

“It is now time. During my three years tour of duties in your beautiful country, we in Team Sweden have been granted unparalleled access and hospitality beyond compare. It has been a true pleasure to serve in Manila during this important juncture in Philippine history,” she said.

Philippine Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro said both countries are committed to peace and stability.

“Our partnership is a testament to the power of collaboration and mutual understanding. Together we pursue a peaceful, secure, and prosperous future anchored on the rules-based international order. On this note, I wish to express our appreciation to the Kingdom of Sweden for its continued support of the Philippines as we staunchly uphold the tenets of the United Nations Charter, UNCLOS, and the 2016 Arbitral Ruling,” Teodoro said.

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