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Oct 232009

Do you know what Sweden and Finland have in common with Azerbaijan, Congo, Lichtenstein, Monaco and Tajikistan? Perhaps quite a lot but they are also members of the exclusive group of 22 countries which have paid their UN contributions in full. Among other EU countries only Austria and Germany belong to this group. (From AP via UN Wire).

A big shame on the others!

A large part of the UN Budget is spent on special political missions, requested and mandated by the Security Council. (This does not include peacekeeping operations). Not a single one of the permanent members have paid up in full.

In another development, to use newsspeak, 5 members of the so called “Nordic Council” have written an article in EU Observer  under the heading “Closer Nordic partnership needed within the EU.” The authors stress that the Nordic cooperation was developed and functioning well long before the EEC and are worried that the wider EU-cooperation would lead (or have already led) to “unnecessary bureaucratic barriers between the Nordic countries and detracts from citizens’ and businesses’ freedom of movement.” They call for a coordinating role for the Nordic Council in the EU cooperation. The authors are from Denmark, Finland, Sweden and Iceland. There is no Norwegian signature.

The thought of creating a “Nordic bloc” of like-minded states, based on a more or less common ideology where equality and social justice were the foremost principles, was a pipe-dream for some when the Nordic countries started to join the European cooperation. But we know what happened. After successful membership negotiations the Norwegian people rejected membership. Denmark opted out of central parts and almost rejected Maastricht until saved by an “Irish” solution. Sweden stubbornly refuses to introduce the Euro although legally committed to do so. Finland was, for a long time, severely constrained by its relation to the Soviet Union but has since become a muster pupil of the EU. In a state of panic, Iceland applied for membership. This will certainly be rejected in a referendum when things have cooled down. Fish is more important. Norway, Denmark and Iceland, of course, are members of NATO whereas Sweden and Finland are “neutral”, whatever that may mean in today’s world (and which doesn’t prevent Sweden from participating in the NATO-led war in Afghanistan).

We should accept the fact that despite a common historical heritage, a culture which is shared to a great extent, very similar languages (except for Finnish but Swedish is also an official language in Finland) and generally very friendly relations, those countries have very different political ambitions and very different purposes with their EU membership. Well, two of them are not even members. An attempt to forge closer coordination would mean having to look for smallest common denominators which would only hamper the wider integration and cooperation.

 Let us face the fact that “Scandinavism” and “Nordism” is a sentimental thing of the past. The five Nordic countries should continue to develop and enjoy their affinity, closeness and common culture but the time has come to apply a wider perspective and emphasize economic and political cooperation cooperation within a wider European framework.  And within such a framework also have as stronger voice in the UN (and maybe even urge others to pay their due – after Denmark and Norway having paid up, of course…)

  One Response to “Scattered showers”

  1. I couldn’t agree more, of course, but with a question mark for NATO which I think is quite a different story. I am personally quite happy with the fact that Sweden and Finland are outside NATO.

    Thank you for the observation concerning Finland’s non-alignment.

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