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The Åland Islands Peace Institute

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Publication about
the Åland Example

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Read more here.

Seminar Brussels ALEX 15.9.2015The Acting Director of the Åland Islands Peace Institute, Associate Professor Kjell-Åke Nordquist was one of the speakers at a seminar on the Åland Example and its relevance for conflict resolution, held in Brussels on 15 September 2015.

The seminar was arranged by the Åland Government and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland through their cooperation in what is called the Contact Group. The seminar, entitled ”The Åland Example and conflict resolution today”, was held at Finland’s Permanent Representation to the European Union. The audience consisted of about 40 people, mainly from various embassies and representations to EU/Brussels, many of whom were from regions with on-going territorial or minority issues, e.g. Moldavia, Hungary and Argentina.

In his speech Nordquist described the historical experiences of Åland in the 1920’s as an internationalised internal conflict, a concept and a category that is used also today in the study of conflicts on a global level. Such a situation is often characterised by overlapping cultural, and geostrategic interests among interested neighbours and actors – a dominating feature of many conflicts also today.

Nordquist further discussed the relevance of the Åland Example for peace processes by describing six different types of experiences. Åland can in peace processes be a provider of content, concept, space, freedom, singularity and compromise – the latter being perhaps most important dimension. Nordquist emphasised that self-government is most often a win-win solution where both the central state and the autonomy gains advantages. Territorial autonomy is responsive to the needs and characteristics of various minoritites and at the same time does not challenge key national interests. Autonomy has capacity for relation-building, rather than isolation, and well-treated autonomies stay within their host contries – a fact that goes against many misunderstandings about minorities, Nordquist concluded.

The seminar was opened by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Finland, Mr Timo Soini, who described Åland as a successful example of conflict resolution and pointed out the fact that the status of Åland is well entrenched in international law. He further acknowledged Finland’s efforts in international peace mediation. The Head of the Åland Government, Ms Camilla Gunell spoke for the official Åland, after which three presentations were delivered on Åland, Aceh and Nothern Ireland, respectively. The EU External Action Service contributed by moderating a panel discussion. The seminar was concluded by the Member of the Åland Government Mr Wille Valve.

The Government of Åland has compiled the speeches from the seminar in a report that can be found here.
Kjell-Åke Nordquists tal kan laddas ner som pdf här.

Kjell-Åke Nordquist’s speech can be downloaded in pdf here.

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