Ålands fredsinstitut
The Åland Islands Peace Institute

Hamngatan 4
AX-22100 Mariehamn, Åland, Finland
Tel. +358 18 15570
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Publication about
the Åland Example


Read more here.

Rapport Simolin 1 2018 web Page 01The Contact Group between the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the Government of Åland was founded in 1998. It's 20th anniversary was celebrated on December 14th in Helsinki, where two of its founders, President Tarja Halonen and former MP Roger Jansson held speeches at a seminar held for an invited audience. At the seminar, Susann Simolin, the Ålands Islands Peace Institute, presented a report about the first 20 years of the group. The report was written as an assignment from the Contact Group.
The group was formed after Åland's long-standing request for such a group, The Ministry for Foreign Affairs endorsed the idea with then Foreign Minister Tarja Halonen at the forefront. The purpose of the Contact Group is to "develop and increase the use of the Åland Example in international contexts as well as to further enhance information about and contacts with Åland".

On the basis of protocols, activity plans and reports, as well as interviews; this report identifies the objectives of the contact group and how they were implemented; who participated in the work and how the cooperation was conducted; what significance the group's work has had on the dissemination of knowledge about the Åland Example; and the highlights and difficulties in the contact group's work over the last 20 years.

The report, written in Swedish, can be downloaded here.

Throughout the years, the group has presented the Åland Example through seminars and collaborating on visits, and by trying to ensure that the employees and missions of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs have access to knowledge and updated information. An important task has been ensuring that sufficient information about Åland is available on different websites. The group has been a forum for contact between Åland and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and has also had contact with other ministries and organisations in Finland.
The group has maintained its aims and most of the goals that were originally laid out in the first activity plan of the group (2002-2003). Over time, however, the agenda has widened significantly. Interviews have shown that later members of the group have a broader view of the group's functions and mandate than was the case in the early years. In the beginning, the group focused on disseminating information about the Åland Example around the world. Over time, the agenda has started to include issues concerning the status of Åland, the Swedish language, and demilitarisation. Since 2012, the agenda has been further deepened by treaty issues starting to be discussed in detail. Alongside the widening and deepening of the agenda, the topics that dominated at the start are assigned proportionally less space in the work of the group.

The members of the group still consider the importance of the dissemination of information about the Åland Example. However, based on interviews, the issue of contact between Åland and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and, to a certain extent, the possible impact on contacts between Mariehamn and Helsinki more generally is considered to be even more important. According to interviews, the group has become a platform for regular and trustworthy contacts over the years, and has been able to prevent problems from occurring. It has also been able to facilitate the resolution of problems, mainly between the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Åland, but to some degree, also broader than that. The group's meetings also give officials the opportunity to discuss in detail the current international agreements by which Åland is affected. This is also highlighted as an important feature that has been added in recent years.