Sweden Shuts Down Embassies in Hanoi and Kuala Lumpur

Foreign Minister Carl Bildt will close down five more embassies – including Hanoi, Vietnam; and Kuala Lumpur, in Malaysia – as a result of cuts to the government’s budget.

Sweden’s government announced Tuesday that five more embassies will be closed down. The move is a result of recent cuts to the government’s budget.

Embassies will be closed in Brussels, Belgium; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Hanoi, Vietnam; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; and Luanda, Angola. The decommissioning of the five embassies will take place in 2011.

“This painful decision is a consequence of the parliament recently deciding to cut the allocation to the Government Offices by 300 million kronor ($43 million)”, Foreign Minister Carl Bildt said in a statement.

Last year the Swedish government decided to close its Embassy in Colombo and the Consulates-General in Kaliningrad, Canton, Los Angeles and New York. In January the minister announced  that the government will open ten embassies and shut down six in a move to find a new way of maintaining bilateral contacts in the future.

The Foreign Minister was all but happy after the opposition voted down the center-right government two weeks ago, its first defeat since the September election. The red-green opposition vote in favour of the budget cuts together with the far-right xenophobic Sweden Democrats.

“Populist in Parliament decided to cut funding to Foreign Office. We must now start closing a number of embassies abroad. Idiotic in extreme.” Carl Bildt wrote in a Twitter message.

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