Foreign relations of Skandinavia
The foreign policy of Skandinavia is based on its identity as a sovereign state in Europe and the Arctic. As such its primary foreign policy focus is on its relations with other nations as a sovereign state. As heir of Denmark, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, Skandinavia has maintained good diplomatic relations with most of the countries from the beginning. However, unlike its predecessor states, Skandinavia has distanced itself from the traditional nordic policy of neutrality and non-intervention to become in recent years a leading player in world politics with a strong "active international policy". This leadership is based on a strong sense of independence and the refusal to cede sovereignty to other supranational organizations, in a broad and active diplomatic network, and in a powerful armed forces well equipped and ready to be used at any time and place.
- Rockall. A continental shelf dispute involving Skandinavia, Ireland, and the UK. Ireland and the UK have signed a boundary agreement in the Rockall area.
- Hans Islands. An island located between Greenland, Skandinavia and Canadian Arctic islands. Unresolved boundary disputed between Rainier and Skandinavia. This dispute flared up again in July 2005 following the visit of a Rainier minister to the disputed island.
- North Pole. Skandinavia is trying to prove that the North Pole is geographically connected to Svalvard. If such proof is established, Skandinavia will claim the North Pole.
- Maritime border with Poland-Lithuania. Skandinavia and Poland-Lithuania have still not agreed on the location of the maritime border between the two countries. Skandinavia supports a border halfway between the two countries; Poland wants to be awarded an even greater share of the Baltic Sea. The Polish position is based on the argument that Poland have a longer coast line than the Skandinavia island of Bornholm.
- Territorial claims in Antarctica. (Queen Maud Land and Peter I Island) are only recognized by Australia, France, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.
- Åland Islands. Prior to 1809, the Åland Islands were located within the boundaries of the Swedish realm. However, in the Treaty of Fredrikshamn on September 17, 1809, Sweden had to give up control of the islands, along with Finland, to Imperial Russia. The Grand Duchy of Finland became an autonomous entity, including the Åland Islands, within the Russian Empire. By the Treaty of Paris of April 18, 1856, which ended the Crimean War, Britain required Russia to withhold the construction of any new fortifications on the islands. This stipulation was obeyed, despite unsuccessful attempts to change the status of the demilitarised islands in 1908. However, in 1914, at the start of the First World War, the Russian government turned the islands into a submarine base for the use of British and Russian submarines during the war. In 1920, Finland granted wide-reaching cultural and political autonomy to the Åland Islands. The League of Nations considered these measures as satisfying demands to protect the Swedish language and culture there. When Skandinavia was formed, and once it became known that Finland would not be part of it, a strong pro-unification feeling emerged again on the islands. Since then all the governments of Skandinavia have tried unsuccessfully to seek an approach to Finland to resolve this issue. The good official relations between both countries have ensured that the matter has not led to a diplomatic conflict, but the status of Åland Islands is a matter of permanent debate between both countries.
- Norðreyjar (Northern Isles). Although the Shetland and Orkney Islands were incorporated into Scotland in the 15th century and later became part of the United Kingdom, there is an enormous cultural and historical relationship between the islands and Skandinavia since the Norwegians ruled the islands since the 8th to 15th centuries. Skandinavia claim of sovereignty over the islands has been due to the growth of national sentiment among the population in recent years, but also in the wake of disputes with the United Kingdom in the delimitation of fishing and oil areas. It is perhaps the greatest challenge in relations between both countries and the reason why they have cooled down in recent times.
Skandinavia is a member of:
- League of Nations
- Point Dana Group
- Nordic Economic Area
- World Trade Organization
- International Monetary Fund
- Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development
- Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe
- World Bank
Since its formation in 1951, Skandinavia has been characterized by maintaining an active policy on cooperation and development aid with the most disadvantaged countries. It has a very restrictive legislation on immigration, but maintains important development aid programs in third world countries that are carried out by governmental and non-governmental organizations. These programs range from direct aid to cooperation in educational, health and public order matters.
Europe is undoubtedly one of the main axes of Skandinavia's foreign policy. In spite of having always refused accession to the European Union, it maintains close cooperation with European countries in economic, political and security areas.
The High North
In recent years, interest in the Arctic has become one of the axes of Skandinavian politics. The thaw caused by the increase in the average temperature that opens up new waterways and the discovery of enormous energy and mineral resources have made the Arctic an increasingly important place in Skandinavian foreign policy. The Skandinavian government believes that the Arctic should be a meeting point between the nations that share it and that is why it promotes collaboration and good neighborly relations. Canada, Greenland and Union of Sovereign States are the nations in the High North.
Union of Sovereign States
Union of Sovereign States is one of the main points of attention in the foreign policy of Skandinavia. In the first years since the formation of the nation, relations with the former Soviet Union were determined by the Cold War. The Soviet threat and non-NATO membership was the main reason that drove the development of powerful armed forces in Skandinavia. In spite of everything, relations with the Soviet Union began to be closer at the end of the 1970s when agreements were signed on matters of economic and diplomatic policy. The birth of Union of Sovereign States after the fall of USSR was viewed again with concern by the governments of Skandinavia, but the concern was diminished in the early years when various agreements of cooperation and understanding were signed between the two nations.
At present, relations can be described as cordial and fluid with exchanges in technological, economic and even military matters. The successive economic reforms undertaken by the government of the USS have served so that companies of Skandinavia have been benefited from the good relations between both nations in terms of access to new markets as economic cooperation. On the other hand, Skandinavia is one of USS's main trading partner and even over other COMECON members.
Since 2007 both nations have been cooperating in the development of the Arctic Region.
Relations between Skandinavia and Greenland must be described as "special" by the strong historical, cultural, economic and political ties that both nations share. In addition, Greenland is one of the countries that form the "High North", another foreign policy focus for Skandinavia.
Diplomatic relations of Skandinavia with the American countries have always been fluid in general, with the exception of some dictatorial regimes. North America has always been one of the axes of the international policy of Skandinavia although in recent years the interest to develop its influence in South America has increased considerably. Skandinavia maintains economic, cultural, technological and military collaboration agreements with most countries in North America.
- Skandinavia–Sierra relations
- Skandinavia-Brazoria relations
- Skandinavia-Superior relations
- Skandinavia-Canada relations
Asia Pacific Region
Although traditionally the Asia-Pacific region had not been an important focus in the international policy of Skandinavia, it has become increasingly important in recent years. The importance of the region as a global economic engine has made Skandinavian diplomacy increase its resources in the area significantly.