Former Swedish premier Carl Bildt says that the Baltic states must share the refugee burden with Southern Europe, if they want to expect solidarity in the future. In an interview to BNS Lithuania, Sweden's prime minister from 1991 to 1994 and foreign minister from 2006 to 2014 said he did not see Russian threat to the Baltic states "at the moment" but urged the West to continue pressure on Russia and prepare for an "uncertain" future.
Carl Bildt
© DELFI / Tomas Vinickas

According to Bildt, military ties between the Baltic and the Nordic states should grow stronger, however, they will never equal the NATO security guarantees. The politician, who is one of the key architects of the Eastern policy of the EU, said that the new security environment can lead to Sweden's NATO membership, although it would be a lengthy process.

Is the EU today capable of handling the new challenges in the East and in the South, namely Russia and Jihadists?

It has to be and I believe there is a common recognition by EU governments that it's only be acting together that we have any possibility of handling these different challenges.

Are the West doing enough to help solve the Ukraine crisis? What is at stake?

The most important is that EU and US stick to their principles and stay the course. Our demands on Russia have been very clear, and they must not be devalued or abandoned. If that were to happen, the consequences in years to come risk being grave.

Then I believe we must do more to support and help Ukraine. Very few EU governments have been ready to give financial help of any significance, which is highly regrettable.

Do you think Eastern Partnership program is still viable?

Yes, and it has always been clear that it is a process without any firm end state. It's moving forward according to the conditions of the six different states, and they are of course different. Eastern Partnership is of great importance as a clear sign that we will not downgrade our relations with these nations out of some concern for Russia.

Do you see a real threat that after Ukraine Russia could try to destabilize the Baltic states?

I don't see that at the moment. The future is always uncertain, but I think it's important for all three states to safeguard and develop their social and political coherence in addition to the strengthening of links with NATO and other friends.

Can Nordic and Baltic states increase cooperation in defense area? How far could it go?

Yes, that can and should be done, but the most important part of the defense of the Baltic states is, of course, the defense commitment of NATO and the US that can never be replaced by any Nordic efforts.

Can the new security situation eventually lead to the Sweden's NATO membership?

Yes, it can, although such a process would take time. As things stand today the domestic political preconditions for such a step are simply not in place. It would, of course, also only take place in close coordination with Finland.

What political effects can have a drop of oil price and related Russian economic problems?

It's obviously a huge challenge for Russia, and makes the need for economic reforms even more urgent. That need was there even before, and in their absence the country is likely to face a new period of economic stagnation.

What steps are needed to tackle the migrant crisis? In your opinion, are the Baltic states and other Central and Eastern European countries doing enough to share the burden with Southern Europe?

No, we need to do more. And I think it is imperative that we are ready to share the burden. The Baltic nations should be aware of the fact that there might be situations in the future when they will have to call on the solidarity of the countries of Southern Europe, and turn it might be remembered how they have reacted in the situation we are facing today.

Do you now see the way out of the Greek crisis? Is it likely to have wider implications across Europe?

The Greek crisis is primarily a Greek crisis, and I hope it will not have wider European ramifications.

Do you believe that above-mentioned challenges, and the rise of populist, nationalistic sentiments is threatening the European unity? Will it lead to EU's deeper integration or disintegration?

At the moment, many are talking about the risks of fragmentation. The risk is there, but I would rather believe that these situations will bring the differ event EU governments together in common efforts for the simple reasons that there is simply no other realistic alternative to handle the different challenges we are now confronted with.

You've strongly supported EU-US free trade deal. Are you optimistic that supporters will manage to overcome the widespread hostility? What this deal would bring to Europe in both political and economical terms?

Its failure would be a strategic failure of the first order, and would weaken the important trans-Atlantic link. Its success would bring economic advantages, in particular for small and medium-sized enterprises. And that will translate into new jobs across Europe.

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