ALAND: GENERAL SECRETARY VISIT
The general secretary (GS) of the Celtic League has just returned from a conference of the European Free Alliance (EFA) on the island of Aland.
Aland (pronounced oar-land) is an autonomous part of the state of Finland, but culturally and linguistically it is closer to Sweden. Swedish is the main official language on the island with a large proportion of the 28 000
inhabitants not able to speak Finnish at all. During his three day visit to the islands, the GS had an opportunity to learn more about the political system and talk with politicians about their vision of the future for the islands.
The visit to Aland formed part of the EFA annual conference, where the GS represented Mebyon Kernow – the party for Cornwall. At the conference the GS also met with representatives from the nationalist political parties based in the other Celtic countries (who are also members of the EFA) and include UDB
(Breizh), Scottish National Party (Scotland) and Plaid Cymru (Wales). Unfortunately the EFA does not have political party partners from the other Celtic countries of Ireland or the Isle of Man.
On his return to Cornwall, the GS told general council members:
“The political situation on the Aland islands is interesting for the League because it has an enviably high degree of political autonomy despite its relatively small size. It also has a strong economy and close cultural and inguistic connections with other countries and states. Aland also has
membership of the Nordic Council, which is a model that the Celtic League is seeking to further understand to help promote cooperation among the Celtic countries at a political level in the future.”
Settlement of the Aland Islands dispute between Finland and Sweden was one of the few successes of the forerunner of the United Nations the League of Nations The autonomous status of the islands was affirmed by a decision made by the League of Nations in 1921 following the Åland crisis. It was reaffirmed within
the treaty admitting Finland to the European Union. By law, Åland is politically
neutral and entirely demilitarised, and residents are exempt from conscription to the Finnish Defence Forces. The islands were granted extensive autonomy by the Parliament of Finland in the Act on the Autonomy of Åland of 1920, which was later replaced by new legislation by the same name in 1951 and 1991.
This article prepared for Celtic News by Rhisiart Tal-e-bot General Secretary Celtic League. For follow-up comment or clarification contact:
Tel: 0044 (0)1209315884
J B Moffatt (Mr)
Director of Information
The Celtic League has branches in the six Celtic Countries. It works to promote cooperation between these countries and campaigns on a broad range of political, cultural and environmental matters. It highlights
human rights abuse, monitors all military activity and focuses on socio-economic issues.
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