Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom reacts in Stockholm during a press conference about the terrorist attack on French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo in Paris killing twelve people. Image Credit: AFP

Manama: Kuwait and Qatar have joined Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman and the UAE in “emphatically” condemning statements by Sweden’s Foreign Minister Margot Wallström, saying they were flagrant interference in its domestic affairs.

"The remarks by the Foreign Minister of Sweden are considered a blatant interference in the internal and sovereign affairs of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and encroachment upon its judicial system, a fact that contradicts international law regarding non-interference in countries' domestic affairs, as well as diplomatic norms that state that the sovereignty of countries must be respected," an official source at the Kuwaiti foreign ministry said.

The source reiterated Kuwait's support for Saudi Arabia, emphasizing that "interference in the internal affairs of any Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member state is deemed as interference in the affairs of all other member states,” Kuwait News Agency (Kuna) reported.

In the Qatari capital Doha, the foreign ministry on Wednesday said that Wallström’s statement as “a violation of diplomatic norms that must prevail in relations between countries.”

“The statements are incompatible with the international laws regarding the non-interference in the domestic affairs of other countries,” the ministry said in a statement carried by Qatar News Agency (QNA). “Qatar stresses its solidarity with Saudi Arabia in this regard.”

The UAE on Wednesday recalled Sultan Rashid Al Kaitoub, its ambassador to Sweden, and summoned Swedish ambassador in the country to protest Swedish Foreign Minister’s offensive statements against Saudi Arabia.

Dr Anwar Mohammad Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, expressed the UAE’s “strong condemnation of the statements.”

“These remarks violate the principle of sovereignty on which normal relations between countries are based on, as they are considered interference in other country’s domestic affairs that do not respect religious and cultural characteristics of other countries and communities,” Dr Gargash said.

Oman’s foreign ministry on Tuesday condemned Wallström’s remarks, saying

It considers them as “interference in the internal affairs of the sisterly Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and a violation of the international laws and the norms of relations among countries.”

The ministry added that “such statements would have negative impact on the relations between Sweden and the Arab countries.”

Bahrain on Monday condemned the Swedish statements “a blatant interference and a rejected infringement against the sovereignty of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and its judicial system,” and considered “any interference in the internal affairs of a Gulf Cooperation Council country as interference in all GCC countries.”

The individual condemnation of the statements by each of the six GCC states follows a collective denunciation last week when the alliance openly sided with Saudi Arabia in its standoff with Sweden and condemned the “false accusations” by the Nordic state foreign minister.

The condemnation was expanded on Sunday when the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) “expressed its reservations on the remarks made in regard to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, by the Foreign Minister of Sweden.”

Wallström provoked the political storm last week when she made remarks about Saudi Arabia’s social norms and judicial system that Riyadh condemned as “a blatant interference in its domestic affairs.”

The situation was compounded after Stockholm decided to end its military cooperation with Riyadh and the recall by Saudi Arabia of its ambassador to Sweden.

Sweden has been selling arms to Saudi Arabia for decades, but the deal on military cooperation, signed in 2005 and renewed in 2010, was being strongly debated in the Nordic nation and has caused divisions within the Social Democrat-Green coalition government.

Growing concern that Sweden’s strained relationship with Saudi Arabia could affect business in the Arab world has prompted discussions of the issue between the business community and the government, Swedish news site The Local reported.

According to the report, 31 business people have warned that a government decision to halt its military agreement with the Saudis could damage Swedish exports to the Arab world.

Sweden’s Ministry of Industry said it would meet business leaders to “answer questions and explain how the government looks at continuing foreign trade in the region.”