Dear chair, Carola,
on behalf of everyone present here, thank you and thanks to Hamburg for having hosted the 26th Baltic Sea Parliamentary Conference in a genuine atmosphere, generous hospitality and with great discussions and debate. Not to forget all the delicious food and inspiring ideas in how we continue to develop our beloved Conference. Thanks to all involved in the programme. We all leave a little bit more educated and enlightened than we arrived. Thanks also to Bodo, Florian and everyone else in the staff.
Thank you Carola for your friendship and the professional way you have lead the work within the BSPC since we met in Riga a year ago. It has been a great learning experience preceding our presidency.
As from today myself and all the other Ålanders will do our utmost in order to steer this wonderful and unique organisation towards the future. For the first time ever the Åland Islands will have the presidency for the year to come. That means we want to see you all in Mariehamn, our capital, next August 26-28. Being just a little bit buoyant I can already now promise you a visit to maybe the most beautiful island in the world!
So, what can we offer you other than magnificent views, great food and a friendly welcome? In fact that is quite a lot. Åland is a great example of Crisis Management. Exactly 100 years from now when Finland planned for their independency that turned reality the 6th of December 1917 the people on Åland feared that the new nation would not be the best future for the islanders. Therefore the Ålanders went to the Swedish king and begged that Sweden would take care of the island. After complicated and sometimes dangerous political negotiations the question went to the League of Nations who decided that Åland should belong to Finland with guarantees for language, culture and much more. A unique Autonomy was formed which ever since have proven to be beneficial for everyone.
What can we learn from that? The answer is simple. No matter how complicated situations and conflicts seems to be there is always a solution.
What started from pessimism evolved into optimism which make me remember the words from the author George Bernard Shaw: ”The world need both pessimists and optimists. The optimists invent the aeroplane and the pessimists invent the parachute.”
Therefore we are looking at a number of possible themes for next years Conference. Themes that can balance optimism and pessimism in order to find the right way for a prosperous Baltic Sea. We look forward to continue these discussion with the Standing Committee that will meet in Mariehamn in November. Amongst the alternatives we are considering the important discussion of how we build sustainable societies in the Baltic Sea based on democratic values, human rights and equal chances for everyone. We all need cooperation and integration for a secure and prosperous Baltic Sea area. There are probably no better place than the demilitarised and neutralised Åland Island to discuss difficult questions for the common best.
We will of course also hear more from the new Working Group which will discuss the global challenge in migration and integration. A topic that is not national but international in every sense. Being a human being means we are taking care of each other to the best of our endeavours.
Åland is a good place for that aswell. We might be only 30.000 people on our island. But we are more than 90 different nationalities and we are used to deal with new and other cultures. Being an islander is not always a walk in the park but it makes things easier the more friends you have. And more friends we want!
Within this family we are all relatives and it is my pleasure to say welcome to all of you to Åland next year! The BSPC-family is different in many ways, as all families are. But we have a common cause that unites us and which is more important than the road bumps in our daily lives. Without a healthy and secure Baltic Sea we can never look our children in their eyes, saying that we weren't aware of the difficulties – because we are! Yesterday we all saw the Helcom Report with far more red than green squares on different areas. That is unacceptable. Our responsibility is to change red into more green. The BSPC is a vital stakeholder in this mission, Hamburg has contributed with knowledge about the condition today and visions for tomorrow.
We will now take the baton and continue our common journey towards a better tomorrow. See you all in the Åland Islands next year!
|Vännen Franz Thönnes hör till tungviktarna i det tyska socialdemokratiska partiet och även om jag inte delar hans ideologi gillar jag hans syn på Östersjön. Här kan man läsa hans hyllning i samband med BSPC:s tjugofemårsjubileum i fjol. Thönnes lämnar BSPC efter tjugo års deltagande och lämnar också tyska Bundestag efter lika lång tid. Foto: BSPC/ Susanne Ahrens.|
|De håller sig med pampiga talarstolar i Hamburgs stadshus. Foto: BSPC/ Susanne Ahrens.|
|Med stafettpinnen i högsta hugg, nu gäller det för Åland att leverera en minst lika bra konferens som våra företrädare gjort genom åren. Foto: BSPC/ Susanne Ahrens.|
|Det nuvarande presidiet består av Carola Veit och undertecknad med hjälp av generalsekretare Bodo Bahr. Foto: BSPC/ Susanne Ahrens.|