Time is on Their Side

Þann 5.júní, 1990 (á Dannebrogsdaginn) var Uffe Ellemann Jensen, utanríkisráðherra Danmerkur, gestgjafi mikillar ráðstefnu utanríkisráðherra allra ríkja Evrópu og Norður-Ameríku. Ráðstefnan var haldin á vegum Öryggis- og samvinnustofnunar Evrópu (CSCE). Umræðuefnið var mannréttindi sem hornsteinn þjóðfélagsskipunar í Evrópu. Ráðstefnan var liður í röð funda um bætt samskipti austurs og vesturs við lok kalda stríðsins.

Þegar hér var komið sögu, var Berlínarmúrinn fallinn, Austur-Evrópa frjáls, og Eystrasaltsþjóðirnar þrjár, Eistar, Lettar og Litháar, höfðu myndað þingkjörnar ríkisstjórnir að loknum þingkosningum. Nýskipaðir utanríkisráðherrar þeirra, þeir Lennart Meri (Eistlandi), Janis Jurkans (Lettlandi) og Algirdas Saudargas (Litháen) mættu til fundarins og báðu um að fá að ávarpa rástefnuna. Þá hótuðu Sovétmenn að yfirgefa fundinn. Uffe lúffaði, og þeim þremenningum var vísað á braut. Þegar þau tíðindi spurðust, henti ég frá mér fyrirframsömdum ræðutexta og talaði eins og andinn innblés mér, eingöngu um sjálfstæðiskröfur Eystrasaltsþjóða.

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DIVERSITY IN (DIS)UNITY: GETTING TO KNOW AMERICANS – FIRST HAND

In 1973 I had never been to the United States before. The closest I had come to it was on board an Icelandic deep-sea trawler, fishing off the coast of New Foundland. That´s how I financed my university education in Scotland and Sweden. I was then imbued with the feeling that my ancestors, the Viking explorers, of the 10th and 11th centuries, had been here a thousand years earlier – 500 years ahead of Columbus. Why hadn´t they remained as settlers and conquerors? That remains one of he greatest mysteries of history, unsolved by my nostalgic return.

Why did Ambassador Erving pick me for the international program? A youthful opponent of the Icelandic US defense relationship? A conspicious organizer against any retreat from our fullest claims in extending our exclusive economic zone to 200 miles. A prominent left-wing ideologue, but with no secure power base or a visible political future.

A shrewd fellow, by hindsight, Ambassador Erving. I stem from a highly political family, who had strong ties to the Nordic and European left, but none to the United States. Conspicuously, I was to be studying community colleges. As a matter of fact, I don´t remember any. This was the summer of Water Gate, the impeachement of president Richard Nixon live on TV. I learned more about the politics of mass media during those few weeks than any time before or since.

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