Friday, March 25, 2011
We will be one of the strongest economies in the world, says the Swedish historian.
Today is Nordens Dag, which commemorates the basic agreement of cooperation between the Scandinavian countries that was signed in Helsinki in 1962.
All representatives from the Nordic countries were invited to Trondheim to mark the day. The Swedish historian Gunnar Wetterberg held a lecture today where he presented an exciting proposal: to merge the five Nordic countries into a single federal state. "When these countries are so near to each other in language and culture, it is no wonder that we were together not so long ago...We will have a very strong base for economic growth in the area, much stronger than we have when our countries are working separately."
There have been many Nordic unions over the centuries, but they have never quite worked. Wetterberg believes there are other causes behind that: "Perhaps there were others outside the region that didn't want it to go so well. For example the Dutch and English would not want both sides of Øresund (the strait between Denmark and Sweden) to belong to the same country...We also ended up in the middle of the USA and Soviet Union during the Cold War."
On the possibility of internal strife in such a union he says that "It has always been the case in Europe that one group fights with another. But now, after 600 years, the great powers are finally leaving us alone." On the possibility that Sweden would dominate such a union: "The Swedes are not so high on the pole any longer either, because you (Norwegians) are richer than us, Finns are better with technology, and the Danes did a better job getting through the financial crisis than we did. None of the lands would end up being Big Brother, and we will go together on equal terms."
Gunnar Wetterberg is optimistic about the timeframe, and believes it could be done around 2030. "The interesting thing is that the population has been in the forefront of this. 1 of 10 employees in Oslo are Swedish, and three percent of the population in Malmö (just across the bay from Denmark) commute across the bridge to Denmark to go to work. It's happening today, and now it is just up to politicians to put a frame on it."
Just to provide some economic background, the "core" Scandinavian countries of Sweden, Norway and Denmark together would have a GDP in between Australia and Mexico - right now the highest, Sweden, is 21th in terms of GDP but together they would be in 14th place. With Finland and Iceland added it would be around $1.4 trillion, in between Spain and India. Population of the core three together would be around 20 million, then add another 5 million to that with Finland and Iceland.
The inclusion of Finland would make such a union a political and not a linguistic one, since Finland only has Sweden as a nominal official language (with many Swedish speakers, but still a minority) while Finnish is from a completely different language family. Also, since Denmark is technically sovereign over the Faroese Islands (where the language is very similar to Icelandic) a union of even the first three countries would have a group of insular Scandinavian speakers anyway. And let's not forget Elfdalian (yes, that's a real language).