View of Mariehamn (source: wikipedia) Las t January 2015, took place in Mariehamn(Åland Islands) the final meeting of the project called "The Nordic autonomies – Experiences and Visions in a Peace Perspective". The project was initiated by the Åland Islands Peace Institute (ÅIPI) and supported by the Nordic Council's Citizen's and Consumer Committee. It run during 2104 and 2015 and involved a number of Nordic researchers specialised in autonomy issues.

The Noridc Council has therefeore released the following press release:

The Nordic Council is exploring the role of the Nordic Region as a pioneer in peace issues and held a seminar on the autonomous regions' function as peace projects during the meetings on Åland.

(Read more here: Security and autonomy policy go hand in hand)

Where Åland's autonomy is largely the result of more rigid legal agreements, many politicians see progress towards greater autonomy for Greenland and the Faroe Islands as a pragmatic process of ongoing dialogue.

"Being one of the countries that form a kingdom like Denmark is a bit like being married. It's not the wording of the contract that makes for a happy family, but the will to work together and mutual respect, regardless of the balance of power," Helgi Abrahamsen, Chair of the Delegation from the Faroe Island at the Nordic Council, told the conference.

Conflict management is a Nordic trademark
Sjúrður Skaale, Faroese member of the Danish Parliament, added that autonomous regions can, without doubt, stand on their own two feet and be part of a larger grouping at the same time.

"The Faroe Islands were highlighted as a role model for Scotland in connection with the country's recent referendum on independence because we collect our own taxes and pass our own laws despite what it says in the Danish Constitution, something which the British wouldn't allow the Scots," Skaale explained.

He stressed that co-operation between the Faroes and Denmark was also able to accommodate the Faroese taking legal action against the EU – which includes Denmark – in a fishing conflict in 2003.

Johan Lund, a member of the Danish Parliament from Greenland agreed:

"The relationship between Denmark and Greenland evolves via dialogue and in an extremely pragmatic spirit. The Home Rule Act did not recognise Greenlanders as a people in international law, but the Autonomy Act has taken us a step further and we now do enjoy full legal status as a people in our own right," Lund pointed out.

Sámi representation on its way?
During the discussion on how the Nordic self-image has evolved over time, Professor Pertti Joenniemi of the University of Tampere highlighted the transition from basing identity on perceptions of the enemy to a basing it on a cultural affinity and peaceful coexistence – a transition which the Nordic countries have undergone over the last 200 years.

"Our experience of developing a peaceful community of nations is an important aspect of the Nordic brand and one of the things we can share with the world," added Höskuldur Þórhallson, the President of the Nordic Council.

He welcomed the discussions about the Sámi Parliaments in Finland, Norway, and Sweden joining the Nordic Council in the same spirit. An application from the Sámi Parliamentary Council was on the agenda of both the Citizens' and Consumer Rights Committee and the Presidium during the meetings on Åland.

Read more about the conference "The Nordic Autonomies – Experiences and Visions in a Peace Perspective" organised by the Åland Islands Peace Institute and the Nordic Council's Citizens' and Consumer Rights Committee at www.peace.ax

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