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Advocates of Realpolitik: Sweden, Europe and the Helsinki Final Act
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of History.
2012 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Sweden is traditionally portrayed as an active critic and mediator or bridge builder in international politics during the 1960s and 1970s. The activation of Swedish foreign policy, often ascribed to Prime Minister Olof Palme, has been lauded as a transformation from armed isolationism to internationalist solidarity. In this regard, the traditional literature has focused almost exclusively on global affairs whereas the role of European security has been widely ignored.

This thesis analyzes Sweden’s role in the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE) and the country’s contribution to the political and diplomatic process leading to the Helsinki Final Act of 1975. It argues that Sweden’s foreign policy in the European realm must be integrated in the narrative about Cold War Sweden and its role in international politics during the era of détente.

It demonstrates that in the European realm, at the heart of the Cold War division, realpolitik thinking prevented Sweden from solidarity with the citizens of Eastern Europe. Sweden reacted reluctantly on the idea of a conference, remained passive during the preparatory phase and never prioritized human rights in Eastern Europe at the conference proper. The reason for this attitude was a general Berührungsangst  (fear of contact) towards Europe among Swedish decision-makers. In the thesis, the paradox between Sweden’s approach to European and global affairs is linked to a specific foreign policy identity and explained within an analytical framework based on role theory. With this, the thesis adds important nuances to the existing account of Sweden and Swedish neutrality policy during the Cold War. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of History, Stockholm University , 2012. , 285 p.
Keyword [en]
Sweden, Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, CSCE, Final Act, Cold War, Détente, Active Foreign Policy, Olof Palme, Neutrality, Neutrality Policy, EC, EEC
National Category
Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-75280ISBN: 978-91-7447-460-2OAI: diva2:515502
Public defence
2012-05-16, sal G, Arrheniuslaboratorierna, Svante Arrhenius väg 20 C, Stockholm, 13:00 (Swedish)
Available from: 2012-04-24 Created: 2012-04-13 Last updated: 2012-04-16Bibliographically approved

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Makko, Aryo
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