The August edition of the monthly magazine Analys Norden presents a review of the relationships between the Nordic countries internally and with their neibours as well.Over the years Nordic Co-operation has become increasingly internationally oriented. The Scandinavian countries can certainly have different relationships with and in between each other and therefore to agendas but both the Nordic Council of Ministers and the Nordic Council often act as a unified participant on behalf of all of the Nordic countries.

The Nordic Council (founded in 1952) works through its many political contacts in the region on democracy, equality and human rights issues. Mobility and exchange with the Baltic states and Russia have long been priorities for The Nordic Council of Ministers, but the council also has significantly influenced the Arctic agenda of The European Union recently.


On the whole the Nordic countries act as a cooperative partner in the EU and is a united player in a wide range of political and practical issues but the emphasis is still on bilateral relations in Scandinavia.

Sweden was long perceived as Big brother in Scandinavia. However, demography and economy have changed “the balance of power” according to historians and political writers and journalists. Perhaps Norway is closer to Sweden linguistically and culturally than any other country, writes Margit Silberstein, one of the contributors to Analys Norden. Every day tens of thousands of people cross the border between the two countries and for people in the county of Värmland, on the Swedish side, the Norwegian capital Oslo has become the nearest big city and fastest growing region. In the new Europe focus is on growing and expanding regions rather than on national borders. Denmark is the country which Sweden has been most at war with. Over the centuries the two countries have fought no less than 36 wars with each other, according to the historian Herman Lindqvist. Despite all the wars the building of the bridge across Öresund, the strait between the countries, seems to have brought the Swedes and the Danes closer together. However, a contemporary conflict, immigration, has now put the two at odds again. Many Swedes believe that the Danes are racists and the Danes think that Swedes are hypocrites. “On the surface Swedes seem tolerant but they really maintain double standard”, according to the Danish opinion.

This column has earlier this year reported on the relationship between Finland and Sweden, particularly in the light of Märkesåret ( 200 years, 1809, since Finland was separated from Sweden) and the Finnish language in Sweden. Today 440 000 people with Finnish background live in Sweden, many of them using the Finnish language, one of five minority languages in Sweden. The Swedish government has been asked to explain why some local authorities don’t accept the Finnish language as a means of communication between Finns in Sweden.

There were close contacts between the Swedish political parties and the growing independent movements during the 1980s in the Baltic states, Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia. In keeping with its effort to promote security in the Baltic region Sweden was also for many years the biggest contributor to the military defense of the Baltic countries.Recently Swedish banks contributed to the collapse of the Baltic economies by generous, venturous loans and the Swedish taxpayers will probably have to pay the bills together with the Balts.

The Nordic countries have been united and separated in the course of history. Could it be phantom pains that make us drawn to each other, asks Margit Silberstein. A recent study at the University of Göteborg shows that a strong Nordism is alive in Sweden. One in five Swedes have a feeling of strong solidarity with Danes and Norwegians, according to the study.

Stig Olsson