Expansion?

Several countries have a long and close relationship with and often identify with some or all of the Nordic countries. Of the ones left out of my difinition of Nordic countries the most prominent ones are Latvia, Lithuania and the United Kingdom. For size, cultural and political reasons I feel that the U.K. would make poor addition to the Nordic Union, as most of the economical, political and demographic weight would be concentrated on the British Isles.

In my opinion the only viable additions to an Nordic Union would be Latvia and Lithuania. They satisfy my demands of population size and geographical proximity, but they do not match the other Nordic countries in terms of language and culture.

Latvia

Latvia has a long history of political, economic and cultural relations with the Nordic countries. During the Viking Age the indigenous tribes of present-day Latvia and the Latvian Vikings both fought and traded with Scandinavian Vikings.

The Northern Crusades, undertaken by the kings of Denmark and Sweden and German Livonian and Teutonic military orders, brought Christianity to the pagan tribes of Latvia. Between 1560-1585 the Bishopric of Courland belonged to king Frederick II of Denmark. Between 1561-1721 the Duchy of Livonia, which constituted the southern part of modern Estonia and northern part of modern Latvia, became Swedish Livonia, a dominion of the Swedish Empire. These times became known as “the good Swedish period”, although the local Baltic German upper class kept their strong political, economic and cultural dominance over the peasant people. Alongside Finns and Estonians, Latvians fought with the Swedes in the Thirty Years’ War against the Holy Roman Empire. Livonia, Sweden and Gotland were part of the same Hanseatic League trading chamber.

Since the early 1990s Latvia takes part in Nordic-Baltic cooperation (NB8: Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway and Sweden). The NB6 (Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia) is a framework for meetings on EU related issues. On August 30, 2011 the Nordic and Baltic countries signed an agreement on diplomatic cooperation. Latvia also cooperates with the Nordic countries within the Council of the Baltic Sea States and the European Union’s Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region. The Nordic Council has an office in Riga and Latvia is a member of the Nordic Investment Bank. The Nordic countries are among the most important trading partners of Latvia.

Lithuania

Lithuania’s relations with Nordic countries date back to ancient times. Early written sources mention battles between the Vikings and the Curonians in A.D. 850, while the oldest reference of Lithuanians is found in Eric’s Chronicle, dated between about 1320 and 1335. The ties between the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and Sweden intensified from 1562, when John III of Sweden married Katarina Jagellonica. Sixteen years after this marriage the throne of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth passed to Sigismund III Vasa. The next important step in the history of Lithuania-Sweden relations is the Kėdainiai Union, an agreement between several magnates of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the king of the Swedish Empire, Charles X Gustav. It was signed on 20 October 1655 during the “Swedish Deluge“, part of the Second Northern War.

Sweden was the first state to accord Lithuania de facto recognition on the 12th of December, 1918. Diplomatic relations between Lithuania and Norway were established on the 29th of July, 1921, when a diplomatic mission, led by Jonas Aukštuolis, was established.During the Lithuania‘s occupation by the USSR, Stockholm became the centre of culture, politics and resistance. After the regain of independence and during the integration into the European and transatlantic structures, Nordic countries strongly supported their Baltic neighbors.

Currently, Nordic and Baltic cooperation takes place within various formats: European Union’s Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region, NB8, NB6, E-PINE, Nordic Council, Baltic Assembly, Council of the Baltic Sea States, etc. The cooperation between Lithuania and other Baltic and Nordic countries includes not only political and security issues – countries are bound together by business and economic matters too. Lithuanian banking system is mainly operated by the Scandinavian banks SEB, Nordea, Swedbank, and DnB. Nordic countries are also amongst the largest investors in Lithuania. In 2010 Denmark’s share in total FDI in Lithuania was 10.4%, Sweden’s 8.9%, Finland’s 4.8%, Norway’s 3.3% and Iceland’s 0.5%. All together Nordic countries account for nearly 1/3 of all FDI in Lithuania (27.9%).

Nordic countries are also important Lithuania’s trade partners all together accounting for 9.1% of all Lithuania’s exports in 2011. The largest Nordic market for Lithuania’s products and services is Sweden accounting for 3.6% of all Lithuania’s exports. Denmark’s share in Lithuania’s exports is 2.1%, Norway’s 2.0%, Finland’s 1.3% and Iceland’s 0.1%.

Also, Nordic countries are important in Lithuania’s import structure – all together they account for 7.5% of all Lithuania’s imports. Again, Sweden is the leader from all the Nordic countries with its 3.3% in all Lithuania’s imports (Finland – 2.1%, Denmark – 1.6%, Norway – 0.4% and Iceland – 0.1%).

Nordic countries are a popular destination for Lithuanian emigrants – in 2011 more that 7% of all the Lithuania’s people who declared emigration, chose Norway as their new country of residence. Immigrants from Norway account for 7.5% of all the immigration to Lithuania.

 

 

Further reading:

 

http://www.lithuaniatribune.com/12000/baltoscandia-a-utopia-an-ambition-or-just-a-polite-neighbourhood-201212000/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NB8

http://www.economist.com/blogs/easternapproaches/2010/06/nordic_and_baltic_states

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