Sweden's Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson at Hanken School of Economics: ”I tell my fellow Swedes to be more Finnish”
At Hanken, Prime Minister Kristersson spoke about leadership, international relations, and the security situation. He also participated in a lecture on management and organisation. Following the visit to Hanken, Prime Minister Kristersson was scheduled to meet with Finland's Prime Minister Petteri Orpo to discuss NATO, a topic that was also addressed during the discussion at Hanken.
"When Sweden joined the EU, unfortunately, we forgot to inform Finland, and that understandably caused some resentment in Finland. I believe both President Niinistö and Prime Minister Orpo told me that if Sweden joins NATO, don't forget to inform Finland. Finland is now a full member of NATO, Sweden looks forward to becoming one very soon, and now we are discussing in detail how we will collaborate as NATO members."
Democracies are vulnerable
Prime Minister Kristersson emphasises that while a democracy is always preferable to a non-democracy, democracies are also vulnerable.
“Democracies need to be able to face very rough challenges and to prove themselves to be successful, especially right now when we have Russia on one side, China on the other side and quite a few countries in the world that don’t feel that democracy is the right way forward.”
In response to the question of what is important to keep in mind when exercising leadership in a world facing complex challenges, Kristersson answers: “Be more Finnish!”
”Right before the accession talks with NATO in Washington, I asked the Finnish ambassador what Sweden should be thinking about during the period when we have applied for a NATO membership but before becoming a member. He said: ‘Well, just prepare for the worst’. That’s a very Finnish attitude. In Sweden, we have more of a tradition of hoping for the best.”
Not the time to be careless
Prime Minister Kristersson says that Finland and Sweden also collaborate in various ways beyond NATO.
“In the long term we will not only defend ourselves by military defence, but also by being very successful in an economic sense. In terms of economic cooperation, we are two technology driven countries, and we also have joint experiences from forestry. We even dare to say that Finland and Sweden know more about sustainable forestry than most European countries.”
A question from the audience was how gang crime in Sweden affects foreign investments. Prime Minister Kristersson responded that what happens in a country affects how the rest of the world perceives it.
"Gang crime is a real issue. It represents a significant shift for the Swedish judicial system. Foreign companies question whether it's okay to move to Sweden.”
Additionally, there is the challenge of misinformation. The Prime Minister says that recently, false information about Sweden's stance on the Middle East was circulated, leading to threats against Sweden. Moreover, it diminishes the interest of other countries in investing in Sweden.
"While we must uphold our democracy and freedom of speech, it is not the time to be careless, both for security reasons and economic considerations."
Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson was interviewed by Charlotta Collén, Director of Research and International Relations at Hanken and Senior Advisor for the Transatlantic Defence and Security Programme at the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA).
More pictures from the Prime Minister's visit:
Ulf Kristersson visit 27.11.2023 (Flickr)
Text: Jessica Gustafsson
Foto: Niklas Günsberg