Nu är Centern med i Europa

Allt man någon gång varit rädd för att göra måste göras. Det är en fin princip att leva efter och därför stod jag i fredags i Kroatien inför ett hundratal politiker från hela Europa för att förklara varför det är bra att Åländsk Center får en observatörsplats i Europas tredje största parti, Alde. Presentationen jag höll är på engelska och såg ut så här. En engelsklärare skulle kanske inte vara jättestolt över grammatiken men det spelar mindre roll eftersom folk begrep vad jag sade och röstade ja!
Mr. Chairman, dear European friends,

I stand here representing the party Åländsk Center which has been in government in the Åland Islands since decades back. We are today the largest party group within our Parliament with seven out of thirty places. We are two women and five men and have therefore some work to do to change that.

We have applied for a place as an observer in Alde because we seriously think it is important to be a part of decisions and discussions early rather than late. The Åland Islands have been self-governed since 1922 and as many of you we are still struggling to find our place and our platforms in a changing world. On the international playing field we only have a few representations and we are looking for more. We are a part of the Nordic Council and the Baltic Sea Parliamentary Conference, BSPC. We have a representative in the Committee of Regions in Brussels but we lack for example a place in the European Parliament. We belong to Finland who also has stated that it is only right for Åland to have such a place but have so far not been willing to give one of its thirteen places to Åland. We will of course continue our efforts and we will also actively seek cooperation’s where we in other ways can take part in the forming of the new Europe. That is why I am here.

From time to time I get the question at home, which I am sure you all get. What can we learn from the European Union? How come it is good for us? To them I reply: it is not only what we can learn from Europe that matters. As important is how we can be of assistance in the never-ending work towards a common European future in peace and prosperity. The Aland Islands in the Baltic Sea is a living and lively example of how conflicts can be dealt with without the spilling of blood. The Aland Islands is the only still standing decision from the League of Nations, what we today know as the United Nations. In 1921 they decided in an internationally sensitive matter that the Aland Islands should from then and always have its own self-governance under the wings of Finland, as close to become a country on its own without being one. This was not what the Alanders wanted but it became reality and the people started to work instead of going to war. Thanks to that wisdom we are today well over 28.000 inhabitants living on the islands, geographically and strategically placed between Finland and Sweden. The islands consist of hard working people, active worldwide. What once was a society of shipowners and seafarers, fishermen and farmers, today has grown up to a sparkling business centre in the middle of the Baltic Sea. We have very little unemployment, our schools are worldclass and nobody has to be afraid to go out when it is dark.

We do sports on both national and European level. Our cultural life is a combination between local enthusiasm and professional skill. The best of our singers have found their careers both in Sweden and in Finland. But we are far from perfect. Inspired from the very interesting gender seminar this morning I have to admit that after our latest election only eight out of thirty members of our parliament are women. We struggle to understand how that happened but we are pleased with the fact that four out of seven members of our government are women, that our speaker of the Parliament is a woman, that our only member in the Finnish parliament is a woman and that our health services and educational system are headed by women. I am sure this will make a difference in our next election. I believe in role models.

So the question is not only what Aland can learn and gain from Europe but also what we can do for our common future. We have lived in Europe since the start of times. We have done business with Europe ever since shipping was invented. We travel in Europe. We may well be a small player in a large world. We still believe in the power of the mind and we would like to give our input to the never-ending construction site, which is called the European Union. We want to share how we became the Islands of Peace, how we worked together towards a brighter future and how we get on with Finland and the challenges in that relationship. In the beautiful Republic of Croatia, soon an EU-member as the rest of us, there has for example been talks in regard how the Serbian minority could get a similar self-governance towards Croatia as Aland has within Finland. I am also aware that the very region where we are right now, Istria, are looking for guidance and advices in their new EU-reality. Wherever we and my Party can be of assistance, we are ready to help. As you remember we have as a matter of fact been in Government since the 1970's and may therefore have a few advices to share.

Thanks for your attention and thanks for a great and inspirational programme here and in Dublin, which are the only meetings I have attended. So far you don’t know us and we don't know all of you. We are here to listen, to learn, to meet, to share, to guide, to follow and to build. Åland is certainly a part of Europe but Europe is, as we see it, also a part of Åland!

Thank you.
Utsikten från publiken mot talarstolen.
Efter presentationen röstar alla delegater elektroniskt...
...innan resultatet kom upp på den stora skärmen. Det gick vägen!

Det var politiker från så gott som hela Europa på plats i Pula, Kroatien.


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