Copenhagen meeting

Nordic Council in session

The Nordic Council of ministers and parliamentarians opens today in the Danish capital of Copenhagen for its annual session rotating between the Nordic capitals.

This is a 63-old body declared dead but unburied by some - and loved by others as a pioneering and an even more important institution than ever before.

Sounds from a Nordic Council film prize press conference - announcing this year's winner of the newest of award going to a competing candidate from Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland and Iceland.

Other annual awards honor work in music, literature, nature and the environment - these also open to candidates from the semi-independent members of the vast Nordic region - stretching from Greenland right off to coast of North America to the Faoroe islands perched above Scotland, and to Finland's Swedish-speaking Åland islands in the middle of the Baltic Sea.

In the twilight zone of the Nordic council are the eastern Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania - Nordic country cousines, not formally members of the council but always present as observers at the sessions - and all members of the Nordic Investment Bank - with little Estonia a member of the Nordic Brigade for international peace-keeping action .

For some, the announcement of the winner of these Nordic prizes - and their prize presentation ceremonies during the rotating Nordic Council sessions – are the real headline grabbers these days - since the Nordic Council can only pass recommendations to government – and there are seldom any Nordic fueds or sparks of disputes.

But persuation and co-operation are the name of the game.

For example, at a session also in Copenhagen, news came from the Faroes of a brutal gay bashing on the streets - believed to be fuelled by the church-dominated Faroes refusal to pass anti-gay discrimination – the last such outpost in the Nordic zone.

After parliamentarians from all over the Nordic region publically blasted the Faroes for their homophobia, and those shaken politicians went home to Torshman and passed the legislation.

Some critics shrug off sessions as mere extra travel treats and party time for the parliamentarians.

Others say the Nordic co-operation is so ingrained and basic that much has already been accomplished …and is being strengthened in a quiet way day by day. After all, the Nordic people created a passport free zone with a free flow of labor decades before the European Union was even a dream.

Some critics say the EU has overshadowed the Nordic Council which any failed to clinch an important goal - a common defense, since Finland and Sweden remained neutral and the others joined the Western military alliance NATO - including Iceland which has no troops at all.

Others insist that with the EU ever expanding eastwards, regionalization is a crucial force - and that the Nordic zone is a giant region of small states. Also, in the EU, the Nordic zone is responsible for the Northern dimension involving western Russia.

Some also point out that in this world ever more devoured by Anglo Saxon culture and the English language, the Nordic Council's main goal should be to help preserve and promote co-operation between the small Nordic nations - each cherishing their own language and culture.

All the more reason for the Nordic prizes stretching over Nordic borders.

A sample of language in the five competing Nordic films this year:

Denmark's "Truth about Men".

Finland's The Good Son"

Iceland's "Undercurrent"

Norway's "Oslo August 31."

And the winner – Sweden's "Beyond."

Even this has a Nordic touch - following the passion and pains, violence and alcohol-soaked abuse in a Finnish immigrant family living in Sweden.

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