On 28 March 2014, the first Kastelholm talks were arranged, i.e. discussions about peace under the auspices of President Halonen, at the Kastelholm Castle on Åland. The Panel of the first talk consisted of Mr. Erkki Tuomioja, the Foreign Minister of Finland, Ms. Britt Bohlin, the Director of the Nordic Council, Mr. Hans Wallmark, Swedish Member of Parliament and Vice-President of the Nordic Council as well as Ms. Aud Lise Norheim, Director General at the Department for UN, Peace and Humanitarian Affairs at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Norway. The Peace Institute Director Sia Spiliopoulou Åkermark was the moderator of the talks.
The panelists at Kastelholm highlighted that there are many reasons to consider Norden a zone of peace and that there is international interest in the experiences of the Nordic countries. At the same time, there may be a risk of being viewed as self-righteous, which is why it is important to critically assess the experiences and to promote dialogue rather than a missionary attitude in international relations.
The theme for 2014 was “Norden and peace” and took as vantage point that the Nordic countries have experiences of conflict resolution and peaceful coexistence that are worth highlighting and worth drawing lessons from. There is an international interest in these experiences. Meanwhile, there is evidence to suggest that the Nordic countries are about to depart from the traditional Nordic peace profile, to which anyone interested was welcomed.
At this ”Nordic peace forum” representatives from civil society in all the Nordic countries expressed their thoughts on Norden and peace. The speakers come from organizations that participate in a NordPlus -funded project called” Norden for peace?’. President Halonen participated also in the forum, to which also the other speakers from the castle talks were invited.
The project ”Norden for peace?”
The project ”Norden for peace?” brings together six organizations in the Nordic countries; the Åland Islands Peace Institute, the Peace Union of Finland, the Norwegian Peace Council, Peace Alliance Denmark, The Norden Association Sweden and the Institute of International Affairs at the University of Iceland. Through internal meetings, open seminars and op-eds the network partners want to create a broad and inclusive discussion on approaches to peace in the Nordic countries separately and within the institutionalised Nordic co-operation.
Foto: Alexandra Zhukova