Members of the Finnish Parliament from across party lines have voiced their dismay with the collapse of a proposal to designate Finnish and Icelandic as official working languages of the Nordic Council.
The Nordic Council on Thursday voted 6–5 against the proposal, with the decisive vote being cast by the President of the Nordic Council, Britt Lundberg (Åland Centre).
“The President of the Nordic Council Britt Lundberg has betrayed the Finnish Parliament,” slammed Maarit Feldt-Ranta (SDP), who along with Lundberg is part of the 20-member Finnish Delegation to the Nordic Council.
Lundberg was appointed the President of the Nordic Council as per to a proposal by the Finnish Delegation.
Feldt-Ranta reminds that the objective of the proposal was to enable Finnish and Icelandic Members of the Parliament to use their native language to draft proposals to the Nordic Council.
“I am very disappointed,” she commented in a press release on Thursday. “We could not have imagined that she would turn against a proposal by the Finnish Parliament. Lundberg’s actions are very regrettable and do not facilitate the promotion of positive language relations in the Nordics or in Finland.”
Lundberg’s decision to vote against the proposal also raised eyebrows among her colleagues at the Parliament of Åland.
Mats Löfström (Åland Centre) said it would be very regrettable if the decision was interpreted as an indication that the Åland Islands opposes strengthening the position of Finnish in the Nordic Council.
“I personally have no role in the Nordic Council and I wasn’t aware of the issue. As a Member of the Parliament of Åland, however, I want to stress that I neither understand nor subscribe to the decision. It’s obvious to me that the position of Finnish should be strengthened in the Nordic Council,” he commented in a press release.
“I also want to emphasise that this is not a decision by Åland. I therefore hope it has no impact on the image Finland has of Åland.”
Lundberg, meanwhile, has defended her decision by estimating that the original proposal would not have won the support of the annual session of the Nordic Council, which is to be held in Helsinki between October and November.
She has also emphasised that she did not vote against the proposal but rather in favour of a compromise she believes is more likely to receive the requisite support.
“I knew in advance that the proposal wouldn’t succeed as everyone is against it except for Finland and Iceland,” she explained to Helsingin Sanomat. “I made a compromise proposal and voted for the compromise.”
Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Photo: Emmi Korhonen – Lehtikuva