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Our Man Bildt (1)
A look into the affairs of Sweden's minister for foreign affairs. Part one.
DUCKPOND (Rixstep) — Sweden's foreign minister Carl Bildt seems to never be out of the news. Bildt's repeatedly denied talking with representatives of the US about Julian Assange. Bildt's been described in the US embassy cables released by WikiLeaks as 'a medium size dog who believes he's a big dog'.
This article series takes a look at the man and what he's been up to.
Massive demonstrations were held in Sweden in the middle of January this year against Carl Bildt and his friends at Lundin Oil. Here's a picture from Sergels Torg in downtown Stockholm.
Most of the protesters are from countries in the 'horn of Africa' where Lundin Oil had interests.
The reason people demonstrated is there have been tens of thousands of people tortured, butchered, and murdered in that area, an estimated 150,000 - 200,000 forcibly driven from their homes - and all in the name of Lundin Oil and their business partners. And Carl Bildt was a member of the board of directors of Lundin Oil (now renamed Lundin Petroleum) 2000-2006.
Nils Daniel Carl Bildt is blue blood. Nobility. And not just any old nobility either - his blood line goes back to at least the 1400s. The clan were originally from Denmark, then migrated to what then was part of Norway. Sweden later annexed that area, and so the Bildts became Swedish nobility instead.
Carl Bildt was born in Halmstad, the same town Roxette's Per Gessle hails from. He's the son of bureau director Daniel Bildt and association secretary Kerstin Andersson-Alwå. He has a younger brother Anders.
Carl Bildt did his early education at the Östermalm high school Östra Real which dates back to the 1600s.
Carl Bildt got on the telly at the ripe age of 17. When the country was in turmoil because of a nationwide teachers strike, Bildt - then chairman of the student council - 'broke' the strike by organising classes led by the students themselves.
Two years later at the ripe age of 19 and when Sweden as Europe in general was again in turmoil and the university students had 'occupied' the student union - leading minister for education Olof Palme to try unsuccessfully to talk with them - Carl Bildt got out there to organise the opposition.
Carl Bildt joined the conservative party 'Moderaterna' (then 'Moderata Samlingspartiet') when he graduated from high school, and did his military service as personal assistant with the peacetime Swedish defence staff agency Försvarsstaben, entered the university, and became political secretary for the 'Right Wing Students' and from there led the opposition to the occupation of the student union.
Carl Bildt became vice chairman of the conservatives' student association in 1971, chairman in 1973, but surprisingly never completed his academic studies. Instead he became political secretary for the conservatives ('Moderata Samlingspartiet') and collaborated closely with party leader Gösta Bohman. (Carl Bildt was later to marry Bohman's daughter.)
Olof Palme and the social democrats lost the election in 1976, the first time in a very long time they didn't retain power. A government was formed by spurious oppositional parties and Carl Bildt was called in to help organise things. Bohman and the others began to speculate about Carl Bildt's future and the remote possibility he would someday be prime minister of Sweden.
Carl Bildt ascended even more in the years of the wobbly oppositional government, appointed 'expert' in a number of areas and by parliament itself regarded as an expert in international politics.
Trip to Washington
A Soviet submarine washed up on the shores of Sweden in the early 1980s, causing a considerable international incident. Olof Palme was again prime minister and he was busy trying to sort things out with the 'Big Bear'. Carl Bildt chose this time to travel to the US to discuss 'international politics' with the CIA. Palme wasn't happy about it.
The 'Russian submarine scares' began shortly afterward. The tabloids were full of double page spreads of murky photos of the Swedish archipelago where submarines (or perhaps Loch Ness monsters) could be seen as shady blotches. Carl Bildt repeatedly urged his country to take a tougher stand against Soviet aggression.
Of course it later emerged that the whole thing was a 'frat boy' stunt by the CIA and NATO to shift Swedish public opinion out of legendary neutrality and into the arms of the US. The international arm of the US Republican Party had already made contact - Fredrick Reinfeldt was one of their 'future prospects'.
Marriage & Power
Carl Bildt married conservative party leader Bohman's daughter Mia in 1984 and took over party leadership two years later, the same year Olof Palme was assassinated. Carl Bildt was able to form a government of his own following the elections in 1991.
Carl Bildt set about privatising the country, selling government interests, and initiating and completing the process whereby Sweden would join the EU. Carl Bildt also began the project to build the Öresund bridge between Sweden and Denmark.
The social democrats again took power in 1994, but Carl Bildt was the one who signed Sweden's treaty for induction into the EU on Korfu 23 June, and shortly after became an EU 'mediator'. Bildt and friends again lost in the national elections of 1998, so he resigned his post as leader of the conservatives.
Carl Bildt was appointed mediator by the UN for the wars in Yugoslavia in 1995, and on 14 December that same year became the first 'High Representative' for the office in Bosnia charged with carrying out the peace treaty. By 1999 he was Kofi Annan's special representative in the Balkans, and he continued in that role until 2001.
But by then he was on the board of directors of Lundin Oil.
Medals, Honours, More Power
Carl Bildt can hold his own with the best of them - with the stuffy old apparatchiks who used to review troops from the Kremlin on international workers day.
- He's been a member of the Swedish Royal Academy of War Sciences since 1989.
- He's the recipient of the Belgian Order of the Crown, Estland's Pro Terra Mariana Cross, Finland's Order of the White Rose, Luxembourg's Order of the Oak Crown, the Norwegian Order of Service, the German Order of Service, grand officer of Latvia's Order of the Three Stars, admiral of Britain's Order of St Michael and St George, and is admiral of the French Honorary Legion.
- He received the Swedish king's medal of the 12th size (with chain) on 6 June 2003 with the motivation 'for truly outstanding political accomplishments', the second highest honour that can be bestowed on a Swedish citizen.
But it's Carl Bildt's reach and influence which are scary. Bildt is a board member for:
- Aspen Italia (Rome)
- European Policy Centre (Bruxelles)
- Centre for European Reform (London)
- International Institute for Strategic Studies (London)
- Committee for the Liberation of Iraq (close ties with Bush administration)
- RAND Corporation (Arlington County VA, Santa Monica) (1st ever outside US)
- Royal Swedish Academy of War Sciences
Bildt is also a member of:
- Bilderberg Group (since 2006)
- International Democrat Union (chairman 1992-1999)
- Trilateral Commission (founded by David Rockefeller)
- Council of Centre for the study of Terrorism and Political Violence
Bildt also sat on the board of directors of the Russian investment company Vostok Nafta (based today in Bermuda) who control the Russian state gas company Gazprom. Bildt also was on the advisory committee of East Capital.
Bildt's portfolio of stock in Vostok Nafta was reported to the Swedish parliament's constitutional committee. Bildt sold the stock two months later.
The Swedish general secretary for Amnesty International criticised Bildt's interests in Gazprom, but Bildt again avoided controversy by promising to divest all his interests in the corporation.
I don't have blood in my veins - I have oil in them.
- Adolf Lundin
We're not political. We can't interfere with domestic affairs.
- Ian Lundin
You are enhancing the conflict by engaging in oil investments.
- Gerhart Baum, Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Sudan to the UN
I'm always watching over my shoulder. To see if someone's following me. Someone might be out to do me harm for what I wrote in my book. I don't know if that's the case, I haven't received any tangible threats. But you can't be too careful.
- Kerstin Lundell
One: Introduction | Two: Lundin Oil | Three: Block 5A | Four: Persson & Schibbye | Five: Media Outcry | Six: Questions | Seven: Bibliography