Thursday, January 15, 2009

Landmark Year

Today is the 200th anniversary of the separation of Sweden and Finland - for 600 years before 1809 they had been part of the same kingdom.

In Dagens Nyheter, Maria Wetterstrand writes about the "class contempt" that is felt for migrant Finns by many Swedes - the disrespect that is shown in Sweden to the Finnish language, the ignorance of Finnish history and of Finland's Swedish-speaking minority which led one Finland-Swedish migrant to Sweden to experience the Kafkaesque situation of being sent on a Swedish-language course for foreigners, even though it was the only language he knew. Wetterstrand believes that Sweden should make a formal apology to Finland for the suffering Finland endured at its hands - rather like the one made to Ireland by Tony Blair in 1999. But no such apology will be forthcoming - instead, the day is being marked by official speeches in Stockholm and a general stifling of awkward resonances from the past.

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