Det är såklart på sin plats att önska alla en riktigt skön jul så här dags. Men som med alla andra längre helger är julen även ett bra tillfälle att dyka in i lite djupare frågor och här har jag ett förslag. Nertill finns en text om Ålandsexemplet som i vinter publicerats i något som heter Baltic Rim Economies där sakkunniga inom en mängd olika områden ger sin syn på tingens ordning. Jag fick den stora äran att delta med en text i årets julnummer som finns att läsa här, dessvärre bara på engelska.
Jag tog avstamp i Nationernas förbunds beslut år 1921 då Åland gavs ”möjlighet att själva ordna sin tillvaro så fritt det överhuvudtaget är möjligt för ett landskap, som icke utgör en egen stat.”
Sedan dess har det ibland gått bakåt men oftare framåt. Håll till godo och ha en riktigt skön julhelg!
Author: Jörgen Pettersson, Member of the Åland Parliament and president of the Baltic Sea Parliamentary Conference.
From Crisis to Success, How Åland Became the Islands of Peace
The autonomous Åland Islands are situated in the very heart of the Baltic Sea and therefore strategically important for all surrounding nations. Thanks to international agreements dating back to the Paris Peace Treaty of 1856, the autonomy is associated with demilitarization; military forces are not allowed in Åland, and fortifications may therefore not be built. The people of Åland do not have to do conscription in the Finnish military.
The demilitarization was confirmed and strengthened in 1921 by the League of Nations which also added neutralization to the “Convention of the non-fortification and neutralization of the Åland Islands ” signed by ten member states – Germany, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Great Britain, Italy, Latvia, Poland and Sweden. At the same time, the sovereignty of Åland was handed to Finland including the following wording: “Finland, resolved to assure and to guarantee to the population of the Aaland Islands the preservation of their Swedish language, their culture, and their local traditions…”
The Soviet Union first approved the demilitarization in 1940 and then renewed it in 1947 when the Peace Treaty with Finland was signed in Paris between Finland and the Soviet Union, stating the following:
“The Aaland Islands shall remain demilitarized in accordance with the situation as exists at present.”
While that has been a long time ago, the “Islands of Peace” description is still valid and more important than it has been for many years. The “Åland Example” is living proof of a functional crisis management and the fact that discussions and agreements can be reached even when circumstances are challenging.
The results of what happened almost a hundred years ago are many. Today, 30,000 people live on the islands with extremely low unemployment. Swedish is the only official language in Åland. The autonomy has developed over the years due to the three Autonomy Acts; the fourth revision of the Autonomy Act is in the making right now after joint parliamentary work between the parliaments in Finland and in Åland. Thanks to the autonomous status of the Åland Islands, the government and the parliament can participate as a separate entity in the work of various international organisations, one of them the Baltic Sea Parliamentary Conference (BSPC).
The BSPC, consisting of the parliaments around the Baltic Sea, was founded in 1991 with the primary goal of creating a platform for open parliamentary dialogue to overcome the cold war and to establish the Baltic Sea as a sea of freedom and cooperation. The presidency of the organization is held by the Åland Parliament from 2017 to 2018, with the annual conference to be hosted in August 2018 in Mariehamn, the capital of Åland.
Considering the current situation within Europe, it is important to remember that a fair solution to any challenge can only be achieved by dialogue and cooperation, particularly in times of crises.
We want to live in a free, peaceful and prosperous Baltic Sea region – especially since we are once again, after more than 20 years, in a tense, perhaps an inflamed situation. It is more important than ever to follow our guidelines, to follow our principal basis which is dialogue to resolve critical and tense situations.
The crucial foundation of the Baltic Sea Parliamentary Conference is: We want to be a political platform for cooperation, for commitment and for competence in the political dialogue of parliaments, governments and civil societies in the Baltic Sea region.
We should not take for granted that we parliamentarians can always find satisfactory solutions. But we have an obligation to our citizens to contribute to solving conflicts.
In order to achieve that, we must strengthen interparliamentary cooperation as well as the influence of parliaments. Their common will is of crucial importance in order to look for answers to international challenges such as the refugee crisis and the threats posed by terrorism. We parliamentarians as representatives of the citizens in our countries need to continuously work on deepening dialogue, on compromise and on cooperation related to the democratic values to face future international challenges.
The priority issues for the BSPC during the Åland Islands’ presidency in 2017 – 2018 are therefore:
• To contribute to the development of sustainable societies in the Baltic Sea region based on democratic values, human rights and equal opportunities for all.
• To enhance cooperation and integration for a secure and prosperous Baltic Sea area. We want to further improve and develop means of democratic participation, e.g. through transparency, comprehensive information, government accountability and other instruments of citizen participation.
• To find common solutions on the topics of migration and integration based on mutual information and best practices. The issues of migration and integration pose a tremendous challenge to all countries in the Baltic Sea region as well as a great opportunity for their further development. This calls for intensive dialogue as well as close cooperation and also coordinated policies between the Baltic Sea States. Therefore, we have established a new working group that will analyse and discuss migration and integration.
The conference in Åland on 26-28 August 2018 will offer dialogue, debate, solutions, friendship and a strong will to make the Baltic Sea more prosperous than ever before. You are welcome to participate in this process!