On the invitation of Philippine Ambassador to Sweden Maria Zeneida Angara Collinson, the Swedish Minister for Integration Erik Ullenhag recently met with Filipino community representatives.
Present during the meeting were Fr. Gabriel Baldostamon (Saint Nicolai Parish in Linköping), Mr. Noli Buhay (Ugnayang Pilipino), Ms. Lendsy Theodorsson (Bayanihan), Ms. Hanna Stenbacka (Filipino-Swedish Youth), Ms. Karol Jennel and Ms. Vangie Jorquia (ABS-CBN Europe News Bureau correspondent).
Also present during the meeting were Ambassadors from the Association from Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and some members of the ASEAN community in Stockholm.
An initiative of Ambassador Collinson, the meeting was aimed at raising the profile of the growing Filipino community in Sweden by focusing on their successes in assimilating to Swedish life and culture.
Filipino community members actively engaged Minister Ullenhag on their proposals to strengthen the Swedish Government’s language program for immigrants, particularly in terms of enabling quicker employment.
They also asked the Minister on the administration’s response to the seemingly anti-immigrant sentiment, following the terrorist bomb attacks in Stockholm December of last year and the influence of the right-wing Sweden Democrats in the Swedish Parliament.
Minister Ullenhag enthusiastically received the ideas of the Filipino community representatives and acknowledged the important role the 13,000 strong Filipino community has played in contributing to the progress of Sweden.
He assured that his office would remain open to the Filipino community and to the community’s suggestions for a more effective policy for integration.
The Minister also reaffirmed the Swedish Government’s commitment to safeguard and promote the country’s open and tolerant views.
He was especially pleased to know that Filipinos in Sweden were peaceful and productive members of society.
Minister Ullenhag assumed his ministerial portfolio in October 2010 under the second mandate period of Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt’s government.
He has the responsibility to ensure the speedier integration of newly arrived immigrants into Sweden’s working and social life.