During the Cold War Swedish PM Olof Palme was a man to watch. He was leading something called the Disarmament Commission. This commission was heavily influenced by the Socialist International and Palme in this role clearly indicated pro-Soviet leanings. It seems as if the Swedish PM believed that Socialist politicians in Western Europe ought to cultivate ties with politicians in the Soviet occupied part of Europe and with Soviet CPSU politicians.
In May 1980 Palme visited Moscow and held talks with Soviet heavyweights Boris Ponomarev and his deputy, Vadim Zahgladin. According to Palme Ponomarev expressed “very positive interest” in the Disarmament Commission.
Why was the commission so very advantageous to the Soviets? Palme worked hard for the Soviet idea of a nuclear-free zone in Europe and the ultimate objective was, in his view, to make the whole of Western Europe free of nuclear weapons. That meant at the time to freeze the imbalance of military forces in Europe. That was something that could only be an advantage to Moscow.
Rumors had it during the Cold War that Palme’s role as a UN mediator between Iraq and Iran was important to the Socialist International, at the time dominated by the more extreme faction of the international. The goal would be to persuade Iran to join a “zone of détente and neutralism” which could include Austria, Sweden, Yugoslavia, Greece, Turkey and West Germany. It would be a combination of European industrialized nations and oil-producing nations in the Middle East.
The main supporters at the time of this idea were such social democratic leader in Europe as Bruno Kreisky and Egon Bahr along, of course, with the Swedish PM. Other supporters of the idea were social democrats Kalevi Sorsa of Finland and Denmark’s Anker Jorgensen. Sorsa headed a study group on disarmament for the Socialist International.
There were other Swedish leftist social democrats than Palme who actively resisted the foreign policy of the administration of President Ronald Reagan. The international secretary of the Swedish social democrats, Pierre Schori, travelled to Central America. He returned to Sweden critical of American policy in that region and giving full support to the revolutionaries that ravaged tiny El Salvador. Schori became a spokesman within the international for extremist revolution in El Salvador. The Swedish secretary general of the international, Bernt Carlsson, also supported revolution in Central America.