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1993 - Mr Major’s Joint Doorstep Interview with the Swedish Prime Minister

Below is the text of Mr Major’s joint doorstep interview with the Swedish Prime Minister, Carl Bildt, held in Moja on Thursday 12th August 1993.


QUESTION:

Could I ask both Prime Ministers, what progress is there in the plans to evacuate the injured from Sarejevo?

PRIME MINISTER MAJOR:

Progress is being made. I think if the delay is beyond 48 hours and it may be a little - it will be in gathering the families together in Sarejevo in order that they can come out with the injured. In the case of the children in particular, I think everyone will understand it is important to have their parents with them. To carry a sick child halfway across the world to a country that speaks a different language clearly you need the parents so there may be a small delay but I don't think very long.

PRIME MINISTER BILDT:

We are in constant touch with the Bosnian authorities and with UNHCR and I think we have a Swedish Air Force Hercules leaving today for the Ancona base in Italy to pick up certain equipment there and be ready and I think the British aircraft is already in the vicinity.

PRIME MINISTER MAJOR:

We have gathered together the medical team and the planes will be ready to leave soon.

QUESTION:

What else have you been discussing?

PRIME MINISTER BILDT:

To be quite frank, we have been enjoying life and discussing the Stockholm Archipelago and that is it so far.

PRIME MINISTER MAJOR:

We return to work this evening.

QUESTION:

What about the Swedish application to join the European Community? Have you been discussing that and what are the views of both governments on this at the moment?

PRIME MINISTER BILDT:

We have in fact been discussing that today although we had a discussion on that yesterday and we went through rather briefly some of the major items that are going to be the subject of negotiations during the autumn.

PRIME MINISTER MAJOR:

And we had a chance to discuss it last night over dinner as well and the British Government are very keen for Sweden to join the Community. We would like to see all the Nordic nations as part of the Community. It seems to us to be incomplete without them.

QUESTION:

Do you share the same view of the future of the European Community?

PRIME MINISTER MAJOR:

I think we both share the view that it needs to be a free-trading and open Community and wider boundaries.

PRIME MINISTER BILDT:

Yes and in the short remarks I made over dinner yesterday, I quoted Mr. Major's phrase that: we wish a Community that is open, larger and less intrusive. I think that sums up a lot of what we are trying to achieve as well.

QUESTION:

Were you discussing the problems in the European Monetary System and do you share the same opinion about them?

PRIME MINISTER MAJOR:

I have no doubt we will get round to those this evening.

QUESTION:

With regard to Bosnia, the US Secretary of State seems to have stiffened his stance in talking about this as a national interest to make sure that Sarejevo is sort of saved. Are we coming closer to an air strike now do you think?

PRIME MINISTER MAJOR:

We all want to cease the hostilities not just in Sarejevo but beyond and the possibility of air strikes has existed for a considerable amount of time in support of diplomacy. The intention is to get a diplomatic settlement and of course there has always been the possibility of the use of air strikes to defend UNPROFOR troops - that has been there for a long time - United Nations troops must be protected. I think that was and is the situation.

PRIME MINISTER BILDT:

Not on that subject but on a related subject, I can give the news that at the government meeting this morning we decided to call in the Royal Advisory Council on Foreign Affairs, whatever that would be in English, for Tuesday next week to take the final decision on the despatch of troops, Swedish and the Nordic contingent to UNPROFOR.

QUESTION:

Did you discuss this question with Mr. Major? Do you wish to have the British in on this?

PRIME MINISTER BILDT:

Yes, I have briefed on not only the Swedish but the Nordic plans and I had contacts yesterday evening with Prime Minister Nyrup Rasmussen of Denmark and this morning with Prime Minister Brundtland of Norway to coordinate the decision-making process as well as the final military arrangements. We also discussed the wish that we have from the Nordic side to cooperate very closely with the British forces, Canadian forces and other NATO forces that are there.

QUESTION:

And what is your stance on that?

PRIME MINISTER MAJOR:

We would very much welcome a Swedish contingent there. I very much hope they are there, they would be very welcome.