Russian-Swedish interaction in the sphere of culture, arts, science, education, sport and tourism is continuing to develop. There has been some progress in the agreement and law base in the cultural area – during the Prime-Minister of Sweden Fredrik Reinfeldt’s visit to Moscow on March 9, 2010 an Intergovernmental Russian-Swedish Agreement on co-operation in the sphere of culture and arts was signed. The text and format of this Agreement have been finalized during the last few years.
The main areas of cultural co-operation between Russia and Sweden – exchanges of arts exhibitions, carrying out of guest tours for musicians, organization of theatre performances, cinema festivals as well as book publishing and restitution of cultural values back to the respective country. In January 2009 co-operation in implementation of different cultural projects with participation of Rossotrudnichestvo’s representation in Denmark commenced.
Association of book-publishers of Russia is developing mutually beneficial links with the Stockholm City library.
There are positive examples of co-operation with the Swedish side in restitution of cultural values back to Russia. In January 2009 the Embassy sent to Russia 5 drawings of military ships of the 19th century that were stolen from the St.-Petersburg Higher Naval Engineering School’s museum in 1992 and brought to Sweden afterwards.
To strengthen co-operation in the cultural area with the Russian-speakers is a matter of high priority for the Embassy.
The dominating thesis in bilateral cultural ties since 2009 – 200 years of peaceful development of relations between the two countries after the last Russian-Swedish war of 1808-09 end. The key event became a series of commemorating activities on the north of Sweden on August 19-23, 2009 (in Vasterbotten and Norrbotten) in which the Ambassador, military attache and the representative of the Russian Orthodox church took part from the Russian side and Their Majesties The King Carl Gustaf XVI and the Queen Silvia, crown-princess Victoria and the local authorities represented the Swedish side.
A good example of exhibition items was a solemn ceremony (that took place on June 10, 2009) of handing over to the Director of the Swedish Museum of Natural History Jan Olov Westerberg of the rear minerals samples from the private collection of geologist by profession, the Chairman of the Council of the Federation of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation Sergey Mironov who visited this museum during his official visit to Sweden on February 25-27, 2009.
From September 30, 2010 till the end of last year the exhibition “Rulers and the Art. Napoleon, Carl Johan, Alexander” was on at the National Museum in Stockholm. This event was prepared in collaboration with the Hermitage and was devoted to the rulers of the three countries united by the one epoch: the French Napoleon Bonaparte, Swedish Carl Johan Bernadotte and Alexander I. At the exhibition 450 items – portraits, costumes, jewelry, articles of applied arts, etc – were displayed. An important part of the implementation of this exhibition was co-operation between the two museums – the Swedish National and the Russian Hermitage.
In the sphere of science the Embassy is striving to strengthen the existing links, primarily by keeping contacts with the representatives of the local ministries, agencies and organizations involved in science and research area. This activity is hindered today to some extent by the lack of intergovernmental agreement in the sphere of natural sciences between the two countries. If such a document was in place this would allow to carry out joint research on a number of common problems in accordance with the regulations as well as to systematically exchange scientists who specialize in the areas of high priority for the both states.
The Embassy keeps contact with administration of the State Agency of Higher Education of Sweden, Royal Technological Institute, Stockholms University and Folks university as well as the other leading Swedish institutions. The Embassy staff assists the Swedish students on a regular basis to establish contacts with the principal Russian universities.
Despite the lack of intergovernmental agreements between our countries in this sphere at present the Russian-Swedish co-operation is developing at the level of sport federations and clubs. Russian sportsmen take part on an ongoing basis in the tournaments that take place in Sweden annually, including the hockey “LG Cup”, World Cup legs in biathlon, athletics, swimming, as well as in ski racing “Vasaloppet”. Different competitions in bandy take place in Sweden regularly, tournaments for children and youth are being organized with participation of the Russian teams.
During the last years there is a noticeable increase of the Swedish “legionnaires” in the Russian sport clubs, in particular in hockey and bandy.
There are positive changes on the tourism service market. Sweden is one of the favorite destinations for Russian tourists, and the number of Swedes visiting our country is also on the rise. The Swedish tourism industry, unlike the majority of the European countries, has not suffered from the decline of the world business environment and the global economic crisis. According to the Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth (Tillvaxtverket), the inflow of foreign tourists in Sweden increased by 4,1% in 2010. It is estimated that the number of the Russian tourists, who visited Sweden last year, equals to 225,500 people.
As for the Swedish tourist trips to Russia, primarily thanks to the considerably strengthened krona, their number grew by 18% till 28,200 people during the first 9 months of 2010. Along with Scandinavia and Germany Russia is becoming more and more popular destination for Swedish tourists.
On April 2nd 2011 a ferry line that connects St.Petersburg with Stockholm starts (the “Princess Anastasia” ferry). Over 150,000 passengers took the opportunity to use the ferry line St.Petersburg-Helsingfors in 2010. It is expected that the start of the new ferry connection with Stockholm will attract additionally 400,000 tourists to St.Petersburg. According to the forecasts, the total transportation capacity of these two lines will amount to 1 million passengers in 2011. And within the next 2-5 year perspective the turnover of each line taking into account the acquisition of new vessels can amount up to 2-5 million people.
The simplified visa regulations are of special interest for the foreign tourists, when passengers of the ferry-boats were allowed in 2009 to stay for 72 hours in the ports territory and come ashore within the tourist program. So far however, the Swedish side is not ready to consider the possibility to grant the similar visa privileges to the Russians heading for Stockholm. On the contrary, there are plans to make the visa processing of the Swedish Consulate General in St.Petersburg more rigorous.