Swedish foreign minister forgot to look within

Updated 18 March 2015
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Swedish foreign minister forgot to look within

Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom should first have paid attention to the severe criticism made by the UN Human Rights Council on the serious violations committed against the rights of minorities in Sweden, including long detention periods and isolation cells in their prisons.
Perhaps, Wallstrom’s ignorance of the concept of the purity of the human rights encouraged her to level allegations against the Kingdom in the Swedish Parliament, which prompted the Arab League to condemn her statements altogether.
Saudi Arabia recalled its ambassador to Sweden after that country’s outrageous intervention in the Kingdom’s internal affairs.
Wallstrom, whose country is contesting with Italy and the Netherlands to win one of the 10 non-permanent seats to the Security Council, ignored the provisions of the United Nations Declaration No. 36/103 endorsed on Dec. 9, 1981, stipulating that it is not permissible to intervene, directly or indirectly, for any reason whatsoever, in the internal and external affairs of other member states of the UN.
Before making any false accusations against Saudi Arabia’s supposed violation of human rights, the Swedish minister should have paid attention to Sweden’s violations of human rights, which were revealed in the report at the Human Rights Council last week in Geneva. The report pointed out the failure of the Swedish government to deal with hate crimes, discrimination and violation of minority rights.
The report warned that this was the second time that the Human Rights Council issued a warning to Sweden. The report also coincided with the statement of Swedish lawyer Yuan Vesteson, an activist of a civil rights defense organization, noting that the state of Sweden was weak in dealing with racial discrimination cases. It also emphasized that there were many irregularities in its way of dealing with hate crimes, while statistics indicated that only a few of the large number of such crimes were legally dealt with.
Before denouncing Saudi Arabia, the Swedish minister should have taken notice of the severe criticism brought up by the human rights organization on the violations committed by her country regarding the rights of minorities, including prolonged detentions of minority inmates in isolation cells. The entire world knows about Sweden’s discriminatory treatment of the Roma minority community, especially since this group has been marginalized over centuries and was at the receiving end of innumerable police assaults.
Wallstrom should also have acknowledged the absence of accountability in civilian institutions that failed to prevent 300 Swedish citizen from joining the Islamic State. According to a testimony given by the chief of Sweden’s Intelligence last November, “these young people have crossed the limits of humanitarian conduct in Sweden for committing terrorist acts.”
The Swedish minister, who worries about the Saudi human rights, should also have seen a Swedish TV program footage of one of the surveillance cameras in “Malmo” Central Station on the brutal police treatment of two nine-year-old Swedish children last month.
That is why the Swedish foreign minister should reconsider her views on the Kingdom’s human rights record.
— Al-Watan


How the Crown Prince’s visit to South Korea is advancing Vision 2030

Updated 31 min 14 sec ago
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How the Crown Prince’s visit to South Korea is advancing Vision 2030

  • Mohammed bin Salman and South Korean President Moon Jae-in agree to a Vision Realization Office in Riyadh and Seoul
  • Business deals that redefine their traditional oil partnership include eco-friendly automobile technology and hydrogen energy

SEOUL: Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s history-making visit to South Korea has taken Saudi Arabia a step closer to achieving its Vision 2030 economic transformation following the establishment of a joint “Vision Realization Office” that will expand business cooperation between the two countries beyond their traditional oil partnership.

The crown prince met with South Korean President Moon Jae-in at the presidential Blue House after being welcomed by Prime Minister Lee Nak-yeon at a VIP airfield in Seongnam, south of Seoul, earlier on Wednesday. It is the first visit to South Korea by an heir to the throne of the world’s largest oil exporter in more than two decades.

The crown prince, who also serves as deputy prime minister and minister of defense, stressed that he would invest more in South Korea, focusing on expanding bilateral collaboration in the fields of energy, automotive, tourism and health.

“South Korea has made tremendous success in Saudi Arabia. I hope South Korea will do the same to further improve the bilateral relationship,” the crown prince was quoted by a Blue House spokesman as saying.

“People of both countries will thrive through cooperation in the sectors of defense and economy.”

Moon pledged to provide full support for Saudi Arabia’s efforts to diversify its economic portfolio, breaking away from its dependence on the energy segment.

The two leaders discussed ways of boosting their relationship, with a focus on the new industrial sectors of information and communications technology, hydrogen energy, robots, health, medical service and culture.

Both sides “reaffirmed their strategic partnership regarding Saudi Vision 2030,” a joint press release said. “In this regard, the two leaders agreed to set up the ‘Vision Realization Office’ in both Riyadh and Seoul, respectively, as part of efforts to expedite bilateral efforts for the successful Vision 2030 partnership.”

At a luncheon hosted by Moon, South Korea’s business tycoons greeted the crown prince and other Saudi delegates.

Among the business leaders were Lee Jae-yong, vice chairman of Samsung Electronics; Chung Eui-sun, vice chairman of Hyundai Motor Group; Chey Tae-won, chairman of SK Group; LG chairman Koo Kwang-mo; and Chung Ki-sun, senior executive vice president of Hyundai Heavy Industries.

“I hope companies from both nations can set up a strategic and cooperative relationship through vibrant business activity,” the crown prince said.

Later in the day, he was invited to Samsung’s VIP guesthouse in Itaewon, Seoul, for more discussions on business partnerships with young South Korean representatives, a Samsung spokesman told Arab News.

IN NUMBERS

• $8.3bn - Estimated worth of economic deals signed on Wednesday

• 16 - Number of MoUs between the two governments, including agreements related to eco-friendly automobile technology and hydrogen energy

• 15 - Number of MoUs signed by the Saudi business delegation

• $6bn - Value of the deal signed by Saudi Aramco and S-Oil, South Korea’s third-biggest oil refiner, to build refinery and downstream facilities in South Korea

• $1.8bn - Cost of developing a propane dehydrogenation and polypropylene complex in Jubail, a joint project between SK Gas and Saudi’s Advanced Petrochemical (APC)

According to the Blue House spokesman, Seoul and Riyadh signed a total of 16 memorandums of understanding (MoUs), including agreements related to eco-friendly automobile technology and hydrogen energy.

“Based on the latest MoUs with Saudi Arabia, South Korean companies will lay the groundwork for advancing into the Middle East region in the fields of green cars, hydrogen energy supply, hydrogen fuel cell and others,” Minister of Trade, Industry and Energy, Sung Yun-mo, told reporters.

On top of the government agreements, eight MoUs between companies have been signed. The value of the agreements is estimated at $8.3 billion, the minister added.

Among the lucrative business deals are Saudi Aramco’s petrochemical project with S-Oil,  South Korea’s third-biggest oil refiner. Under the $6 billion deal the refinery will build a facility to produce ethylene and other basic chemicals out of naphtha and refinery off-gas, as well as olefin downstream facilities in Ulsan, about 400 km southeast of Seoul, by 2024.

Another high-profile agreement is on hydrogen cars. “The collaboration of Hyundai and Saudi Aramco will cover not only existing projects but also future-oriented business plans,” Chung Eui-sun, Hyundai’s vice chairman, said in a statement.

“This MoU will be an opportunity to help further solidify our strategic cooperative partnership,” he added.

Under the partnership, the two companies will cooperate in establishing hydrogen-charging infrastructure in South Korea and supply hydrogen fuel-cell electric cars in Saudi Arabia.

Other MoUs include Aramco’s joint investment with Hyundai Heavy Industries to build a ship engine plant in the King Salman Global Maritime Industries Complex, and a joint project between SK Gas and Saudi’s Advanced Petrochemical (APC) to develop a $1.8 billion propane dehydrogenation and polypropylene complex in Jubail.

On a political note, Moon and the crown prince condemned terror activities harming energy security and regional stability in the Middle East, including this week’s deadly attack by Yemen’s Houthi rebels on Abha’s civilian airport in southern Saudi Arabia.

The crown prince promised to help with South Korea’s possible fuel shortages in case of supply disruption caused by tensions in the Middle East, while both leaders called for international efforts to secure energy safety at the Strait of Hormuz, where two Japanese oil tankers were struck by unidentified attacks.

South Korea imported 101.5 million barrels of crude oil from Saudi Arabia, Seoul’s biggest oil supplier, in the first four months of this year, down 2.7 percent from a year ago, according to data from state-run Korea National Oil Corp.