Åland’s Demilitarisation and Neutralisation at the End of the Cold War – Parliamentary Discussions in Åland and Finland 1988–1995

In: International Journal on Minority and Group Rights
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  • 1 The Åland Islands Peace Institute, Finland

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As a region that is simultaneously demilitarised, neutralised and autonomous, the Åland Islands represent a unique and long-established case in international law. However, this status was never independent of surrounding events. The early 1990s saw both the end of the Cold War and Finland’s accession to the European Union. This paper offers an analysis of the discussion regarding Åland’s demilitarised and neutralised status among both Finnish and Ålandic legislators during this period. It finds that Finnish policy-makers saw little need to discuss the matter. Åland’s officials continuously criticised the Finnish Defence Forces’ presence in the region as excessive and proved unwilling to let the issue rest. Against formal obstacles, they established themselves as a relevant actor, facilitated by differing approaches of political, diplomatic and military officials in Finland. Other sovereign states showed only limited interest in the discussion, making it a domestic one for the most part.

  • 8

    (Government Report), supra note 6, pp. 12–13, 15.

  • 13

    (Government Report), supra note 11, pp. 10–11.

  • 24

    (Foreign Affairs Committee), supra note 21, p. 40.

  • 27

    Raunio and Wiberg, supra note 23, p. 65.

  • 33

    Ferreira-Pereira, supra note 26, p. 110.

  • 34

    (Government Report), supra note 29, pp. 6, 29–30, 32, 37–39.

  • 42

    Raunio and Wiberg, supra note 23, p. 66; Jakobson, supra note 28, pp. 157–158.

  • 43

    (Foreign Affairs Committee), supra note 21, p. 40; Fagerlund, supra note 25, p. 228.

  • 46

    Fagerlund, supra note 25, pp. 193–196, 227–228.

  • 47

    Lindbäck, supra note 44; for an analysis of Åland’s competences with regard to eu law-making and implementation see S. Silverström, ‘The Competence of Autonomous Entities in the International Arena – With Special Reference to the Åland Islands in the European Union’, 15 International Journal on Minority and Group Rights (2008) pp. 259–271.

  • 51

    Rotkirch, supra note 2, p. 373.

  • 52

    Lindbäck, supra note 44.

  • 55

    Lindbäck, supra note 44.

  • 58

    Jansson, supra note 45; the impression of shifts in long-held approaches is further confirmed by mp Jansson who gradually came to modify the long-established doctrine of Åland’s representatives in the Finnish Parliament not to participate in matters of defence. In this context he described the discrepancy between not participating in the discussion of defence issues as the representative of demilitarised and neutralised Åland and the fact of also being one of Finland’s 200 Members of Parliament.

  • 70

    Lindbäck, supra note 44.

  • 73

    Jansson, supra note 45.

  • 74

    Lindbäck, supra note 44.

  • 81

    Wigell, supra note 60, p. 83.

  • 83

    Gardberg, supra note 12, pp. 20–21; this argument can also be found in (Government Report), supra note 29, p. 29.

  • 84

    Hannikainen, supra note 5, pp. 631–639.

  • 88

    Jansson, supra note 45; Jansson also described a meeting in 1991 by the Constitutional Committee in which it deliberated on the proposed new Autonomy Act for Åland. He was asked by influential mp Antero Kekkonen whether or not the people of Åland had contributed to the defence of Finland during World War ii. mp Kekkonen then based his support for a new Autonomy Act for Åland on the fact that Ålanders had indeed participated as volunteers and home guards, exemplifying the traditional, military-based understanding of security prevalent at the time. On another note, Jakobson wrote that security concerns had even been President Koivisto’s main ground for championing Finland’s eu membership, more so than economic ones. See Jakobson, supra note 28, p. 162.

  • 89

    Norrback, supra note 62.

  • 108

    Spiliopoulou-Åkermark, supra note 5, p. 67.

  • 109

    Jansson, supra note 45.

  • 110

    Gardberg, supra note 12, p. 53; see also Joenniemi, supra note 87, pp. 10–13.

  • 111

    Norrback, supra note 62.

  • 112

    Hofmann, supra note 100, p. 284.

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