"Cool Neighbors": Sweden's EU Presidency and Russia "Russie.Nei.Visions", No. 42, July 2009
Sweden and Russia are close neighors with a complicated relationship. They have normal political relations with growing economic and cultural exchanges, especially on a regional basis; however, they both foster an age-old distrust, and have diverging attitudes toward democracy and human rights. Furthermore, Sweden is not interested in Russian gas exports or a gas pipeline under the Baltic Sea. During its EU Presidency in 2009, Sweden is likely to prioritize issues such as climate change, economic growth, and the Baltic Sea region. It will continue the efforts of previous Presidencies for a new partnership agreement with Russia, however. The adoption of an EU strategy for the Baltic Sea region will be a key task, and it will be linked to the Northern Dimension policy, which focuses on regional cooperation with Russia. Sweden will also push the implementation of the Eastern Partnerhip with Russia's western and southern neighbors. This may, however, strain relations with Russia and lead to increased pressure on the prospective partners. In general, Sweden is interested in cooperation with Russia, but will not jettison its support for democratic values and human rights to attain it.