En historia om Åland

Mitt uppdrag var enkelt. Berätta om Åland. För etthundrafemtio skottar av vilka högst en tredjedel hade basala insikter i vår lilla ö. Jag gjorde vad jag kunde och jag tyckte det gick bra. Ungefär så här föll orden och nej, där det finns grammatiska eller andra fel kan jag tyvärr inte skylla på någon annan än mig själv. Eventets titel är Our Islands Our Future och går i korthet ut på att förbereda för en utökad självstyrelse för Orkney, Shetland och Western Isles i samband med att Skottland röstar om självständighet från Storbritannien den 19 september år 2014.

Så här såg det ut denna fredagsförmiddag på Orkney, inne i Pickaquoy Centre i Kirkwall.
Här är deras egen film om strävandena:

När det gäller själva utfallet av seminariet Our Islands Our Future ska jag berätta mer om senare fast en sak kan jag avslöja redan nu. ALLA är djupt imponerade över det arbete som ålänningarna gjort under de drygt nittioen år som vi kämpat med vår självstyrelse!

Good day and thanks for the opportunity to talk about the Åland Example with you all. I will share with you our past and our precence in order to inspire you to find your future. It will be a sort of multimedia performance where I’ll show you pictures as a support to my words. Please though concentrate on the screenI have over the years visited all your islands and I have noticed the similarities between yourselves and Åland. Cultural, dialectual and many others. The Vikings did a good job! This is by the way our Parliamentary Building in our Capital Mariehamn. As you can see the vikings is not would they used to be. They were much stronger before! 
You are islanders so you have your bearings right. This is just a reminder about where we are right now. The Åland Islands in the Center of the Baltic Sea have over the years become prosperous. Åland is a popular meeting place for visitors from Finland and Sweden.
Today Åland have a growing population thanks to people moving in. We are 92 nationalities and consider ourselves a multicultural society. We believe the islands are transparent and easy to become integrated in. The Capital Mariehamn is a steadily growing town, no we have no Cathedral. Also the Countryside is fortunate with the development while the Archipelago struggle and have to face an ongoing urbanisation.
A quicklook at our History. During the Crimean War the Åland Islands was one of the War Centres in Europe. Russia which conquered Åland from Sweden 1809 had almost completed the building of a huge fortress on Åland which was not very appreciated by Great Britain and France. They sent their Naval Forces and blew the Russian project into pieces. After that we have no fortress but a lot of stones, quite small ones... For those into history it is interesting to know that the first three Victoria Crosses were in fact awarded to heroins from the battle of Bomarsund. The very first was handed to a young Irish guy, Charlie Lucas who probably were more brave than clever but saved his ship by throwing a Russian Grenade over board. Yes he survived himself aswell and had a long Naval Career after that. Thats when the links between Åland and Great Britain started to get stronger.
The Peace Treatment in Paris 1854 was followed up a few decades later. In 1921 Åland got its Autonomy from the League of Nations, the predecessor of todays United Nations. Åland is since that decision actually the only place in the world where its population and territory has been assured both Autonomy and Demilitarisation, also known as Non Military Status. Today we from time to time call ourselves the Islands of Peace. From the start we had ten Signature States. Since Iceland and Ireland gained Independency we have twelve.
Here are some historical landmarks. All of them are important but part from Laws and cooperation such as within the Nordic Council I believe the flag and the…
…the stamps are at least as important. Those are important symbols in the marketing and story telling of our Autonomy and the Åland example. It is very difficult to explain an idea like Åland without symbols that are easy to understand.
My colleagues and myself.
Our democracy is quite simple. One Parliament and one Government. This is a chart over the Administration of our Government which is formed by our Parliament. It shows which areas of responsibilities we work with.
A repetition. 
This is what Finland do but we are looking forward to take over a few more of the different areas!
Finland and Åland jointly appoint what we call the Landshövding. Elisabeth is quite lonely in the Finnish parliament but it is always better to send someone than no one.

Ever since 1993 and the present Financial System Åland has been more successful than Finland in economical terms.
And here is where we spend our money.
Once upon a time we had the largest fleet of sailing vessels in the world. Today we concentrate on more modern ships. 
GDP per branch.
The working force of Åland.

Unemployment started to decrease after 1993 when we gained control over the distribution of our budget. Uptil then we were in a financial meaning considered only a landscape in Finland, following Finnish budget decisions.
It is still going up.
The yellow is Åland. We have managed reasonable well over the years.
Here is where the jobs are.
Today Åland is also a part of the international community.

Thanks to the Nordic Cooperation an Ålander have the same rights as any other Nordic Citizen ie Health Care, Education, Work Permits.

The Åland Position in the EU is strong partly thanks to the so called Preamble in the Åland Protocol which is a part of the Primary Law in EU. Our excemptions are confirmed which among others allow all the ships that operates on a regularly basis in Åland to continue the taxfree-sales onbord the ships. Thanks to that the travel to and from Åland is very cheap.A return ticket to Stockholm is roughly ten pounds, including bus. At the end of the presentation (if I still have time) I will come back to these derogations which includes for example Right of Domicile. I am of course happy to share the Presentation with all of you.
Yes, our flag hangs around in Brussels aswell!

It is fair to say that the Autonomy has provided us with opportunities we wouldnt have if we were just a town or a village in Finland or Sweden. I believe that in itself has created brave inhabitants. An example from the world of sport: Åland has two footballteams, one men and one women, in the Highest Leagues of Finland. Actually our ladies will secure the Gold tomorrow while our men are fighting for a bronze and a place in the Europa League.
What is good for Åland is good for Finland.

It would be bold to come here and make outlines in regard with what you will gain by enhancing your autonomy. However I will try!

Finally. I want to bring our sincere best wishes for your common future. If there is anything we can do to help you along the road, please let us know. You are always welcome to our island in order to learn more and discuss challenges. We will be there for you. I am also sure that even if the Åland Example can gain as inpiration you will have to find your own way to Autonomy. When you are small in a large world you have to look for new ways into the future. I am also sure that when you have created your own Autonomy you will find doors to cooperations that never before were open. When you are stuck in a system it is for a fact very difficult if not impossible to se the reality on the other side. We have been doing this for 91 years now and still havent got all the answers. I guess that is life, it is for a fact the journey that counts. Having listen to you yesterday and today I am aware that financial implications are a challenge. You have rightly asked yourself if you can afford more autonomy. I would however like to raise another view on the same subject. Can you afford not to try to find new ways into the future? Thank you for listening and all the best in your common work!


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