What is the future Nordic region going to look like? The Nordic region can be seen from several different perspectives. Nordic welfare states share common values such as transparency, equality and democracy. In the Nordic Council, these values become a reality when it gathers annually to discuss health, the environment, citizen's rights and Nordic security, just to mention a few things.
Security issues were strongly on the agenda when the Council gathered in Stockholm at the end of October. There was a lot of public interest in the speech by the former Defence and Foreign Minister of Norway, Thorvald Stoltenberg. He proposed a new instrument – a Nordic Security and Defence Commission – that would serve as a political tool to react to a rapidly changing security environment. Stoltenberg is not just any old politician. He was the one whose previous proposal for closer co-operation in security and defence policy has been carefully examined by Nordic decision makers and put into force for example by protecting the airspace of Iceland. His prestige has certainly not been diminished by his son Jens' promotion from Prime Minister of Norway to the Secretary General of NATO. It was therefore no wonder that Nordic politicians were eager to voice their opinions to Stoltenberg despite him formally stepping down from professional politics.
Issues that concern the Sami people are often discussed in the Nordic Council despite them not having permanent representation of their own. They are often consulted but remain the only Nordic nation with no right to participation in plenary sessions. However, the Sami Convention is due to be approved in the near future as well as the ratification of the ILO Convention by Finland on native peoples' rights. This would be a significant step in strengthening the position of the Sami in the Nordic community.
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