The Soviet era is still alive and kicking
by Tommy Hansson
Ukraine is Europe’s second to Russia largest country. And looking at the population Ukraine is the size of the UK, France or Italy. Recently media coverage of the Ukraine has included the Ukrainian application to the UN to include the Stalin famine of the 1930s in the official list of genocides. Twelve years after independence the country has vast problems, many of them caused by incompetencce, corruption and bad planning. Many of the problems have their roots in bad old Soviet days. This includes the bad habit of eliminating political opponents. The latest example being George Gongadze.
Contra publisher Tommy Hansson visited the Ukraine during the spring, as part of a delegation of Swedish military historians, and gives his impressions of the trip.
A drink in Poltava heals wounds!
The Ukrainian city of Poltava is in Swedish history forever equivalent to disaster and defeat. The defeat of the Swedish army under King Charles XII in 1709 was the end of Sweden’s time as a major power in Europe. Poltava is the closest Swedish equivalent to Waterloo. Poltava is today a fairly large city in the Ukraine, with 300,000 inhabitants. Memories of the battle of 1709 are still seen and a number of monuments are placed on the former battlefield. You are still able to follow the physical movements of the Swedish and Russian armies almost 300 years ago.
Ukrainian Swedes are denied entry to Sweden
In Gammalsvenskby (“The Old Swedish Village”) the (orthodox) easter is celebrated during the visit of the Contra publisher. The local government building across the road from the Swedish Lutheran church flies a Swedish and a Ukrainian flag (both of them blue and yellow, see the cover of the issue). Let’s have “brännvin” (vodka) says Maria Norberg, a descendant of the Swedish peasants that were expelled from Estonia during Czaritsa Catherine II in 1781 and created a small Swedish community in the Ukraine, still speaking Swedish and basically following lutheran traditions (although time for celebrating easter has been adapted to the surrounding othodox practice). The 200 strong community are denied immigration visas to Sweden, as they are seen as Ukrainians, not Swedes. In the neighbouring village Schlangendorf, ethnic Germans are free to emigrate to Germany.
Krona or euro?
by C G Holm
September 14 Sweden will have a referendum on the question of replacing the Swedish krona by the all-European euro. Contra gives background information in order to give the readers knowledge enough to make an informed decision.
Looking at political alliances parties that normally appeal to Contra readers, the Conservatives, the Liberal People’s Party, the Christian Democrats and the moderate part of the Social Democratic Party all are in favour of the euro, while the Communists, leftist Social Democrats and Greens are against. The decision thus would be easy? No, on the contrary!
In economic science views are split but a majority of Swedish economists are opposed to the euro. In the UK the right wing and the Conservative Party are the most vocal opponents of the euro. And the Swedish campaign organization “Citizens against the euro” have a former Conservative MP and MBA, Margit Gennser, as its chairman and former Bank of Sweden Governor and deputy Secretary of Finance (conservative) Lars Wohlin, the former Executive VP of the Confederation of Swedish Employers Sture Eskilsson (now retired) and Contra contributor, economics professor Sven Rydenfelt as leading members. Today the Confederation of Swedish Employers are advocating a Swedish euro, as are leading Swedish politicians like Bo Lundgren (former Conservative Minister of taxation), Fredrik Reinfeldt (nominated as chairman of the Conservative Party replacing Mr Lundgren), Lars Leijonborg (chairman of the Liberal People’s Party), Alf Svensson (chairman of the Christian Democratic Party) and Prime Minister Göran Persson (moderate Social Democrat).
A monetary union is no new invention
In 1873 the Scandinavian Monetary Union was formed as a predecessor of the EMU. At that time Sweden and Denmark (two years later followed by Norway) created a common currency, the krona. You could pay with Swedish coins or bank notes in Denmark and vice versa. The currencies were based on gold, but the system broke down at the start of World War I. A similar Latin Monetary Union was establsihed in 1865 and included France, Italy, Belgium, Switzerland, Greece and Finland. Tha Union was also folded during World War I.
Euro in theory and practice
Robert A. Mundell was awarded the 1999 Nobel Prize in Economics for his theory of optimal currency areas.
Mundell’s theory is concluding that an area with a similar foundation in industries, legislation and the educational level of the labour force should have a common currency. If the currency area is large there is a neccessity for adaption. If there is a boom in Portugal and a slump in Finland, Finnish workers should be prepared to move to Portugal in a common currency area, or Finns wages should be rapidly adjusted downwards. But Finnish workers would in practice be reluctant to move to Portugal, because of the climate, the culture, food and language. Because of this the EMU has problems. It is much easier for a US worker to move from Seattle to Atlanta than for Finnish worker to move from Turku to Thessaloniki (Greece). The introduction of a common currency certainly makes the move more easy, but in no way a natural remedy to cope with financial problems.
Andres Küng: Friend of the Baltic States and an outspoken anti-Communist
by Tommy Hansson
In the end of 2002 Andres Küng published his autobiography “A life for the Baltic States”. Küng is telling about his life as a writer, politician and man. Only a couple of weeks after publishing the book Küng died of heart failure, only 57 years old. Küng was born in Sweden, but both his parents were Estonian refugees. He wrote a total of 58 books, including his autobiography. He was very succcessful as an author, a TV personality and a promoter of freedom for the Soviet occupied neighbours of Sweden. After the liberation of Estonia in 1991 he turned to business and developed media enterprises and auto imports (Volvo) in Estonia, successfully contributing to the integration of Estona into the Western world. He was given the Contra Freedom Award in 1984.
Chechenya might turn into the next base of terrorism
by Peter Brownfeld
A region that has not been focused in media, because of the development in Afghanistan and Iraq, is Cehcenya. Chechenya is one of the most serious powderkegs of the world. During the past decade, and especially so during the last four years, Russian military oppression has radicalized Chechen opposition into an environment where international terrorism is breeded.
Legal fighter Siv Westerberg
interviewd by Patrik Nyberg
Siv Westerberg, born in 1932 and living in Göteborg, is Bachelor of Law as well as Dr of Medicine. She is specialized in law practice linked to medical treatment and forceful custody of children. She is supposedly the legal councellor with the largest number of succcesful applications for admittance of cases to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France.