Sweden eyes defense ties with Philippines


Sweden's Defense chief has described actions against Filipino troops in the West Philippine Sea as incidents that "put human lives at risk," saying Stockholm is ready to engage in defense partnership Manila if it wishes.

At the celebration of the Swedish National Day in Manila Thursday night, Swedish Defense Minister Pål Jonson expressed "deep concern for the repeated dangerous maneuvers against Philippine vessels that have been taking place in the West Philippine Sea and the South China Sea."

He said such acts not only endanger lives but also undermine regional stability and international norms as well as threaten security in the region and beyond.

"These are not only threats to your national security, but also to our common global security," he said.

Jonson said Sweden is standing firmly behind the call of the European Union and other countries for restraint and full respect of international law in a bid to ensure peaceful resolution of differences and a reduction of tensions in the region.

He also acknowledged the finality of the 2016 Arbitral Ruling and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which favored the Philippines' territorial sovereignty over the West Philippine Sea.

"The UN Charter, UNCLOS, and the Arbitration Award of 2016, as well as other relevant international rules and regulations relating to the safety of life at sea, should be respected at all times," he stressed.

Jonson said Sweden can and wants to be a long-term partner of the Philippines in security and defense as the European nation extends its partnership with countries in the Indo-Pacific.

"Our joint Memorandum of Understanding on defense cooperation is an expression of our engagement. And I am happy that we recently signed an Implementing Arrangement for defense acquisition," he said.

"Sweden is just about to launch its Defence Policy Strategy for the Indo-Pacific. We are looking to enhance defence dialogues with partners in the region," he added.

In fact, Jonson added, he just came from Australia to meet his Australian counterpart, Richard Marles, and is about to sit down with his Japanese counterpart, Minoru Kihara, for defense talks.

Australia and Japan are the Philippines' recent partners in ensuring peace and stability in the region amid China's aggression.