Volume 21, No.3 - Fall 1975
Editors of this issue: Antanas Klimas, Thomas Remeikis, Bronius Vaskelis 
Copyright © 1975 LITUANUS Foundation, Inc.

Conference on Baltic Studies in Stockholm

Opening Speech by the Prime Minister of Sweden

The third conference of the Baltic Institute in Scandinavia took place in Stockholm from June 13 -16, 1975. Its opening session was held in the session hall of the Swedish Academy. The delegates were welcomed by Dr. Bruno Kalninš, chairman of the Baltic Institute, and the opening speech was made by Sweden's Prime Minister, Mr. Olof Palme.

Dr. Kalninš welcomed Mr. Palme, all delegates and guests and thanked on behalf of the Institute the Swedish Government and those institutions whose help had made the conference possible: the Ministry of Education, the Swedish Academy, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, the City of Stockholm and the Swedish Institute.

He pointed out that scholars from 15 countries were attending the conference, including such distant countries as Japan, Australia and Israel. The largest groups had arrived from the USA and from West Germany. But unfortunately those scholars in Hungary and Poland who had been invited and who had accepted and submitted their papers in time, had told the Institute at the last moment that they would be unable to attend — they had not obtained any exit visas.

Dr. Kalninš said also that almost half of the papers submitted to the conference had come from scholars who were not of Baltic origin. This showed that interest in the three Baltic States, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, was not limited to Baltic nationals in exile.

In his opening speech the Prime Minister, Mr. Palme, said about the Baltic Institute:

"It is almost exactly five years ago the Baltic Institute in Scandinavia, which arranges these conferences, was established here in Stockholm — five short years of conscientious labor and constant endeavor to promote Baltic research in Sweden."

"As I see it, the Baltic Institute has two prime tasks: First, to help stimulate and develop the cultural life of the Baltic minorities in Sweden. It is essential that their language and their cultural identity be preserved, not only for the Baltic immigrants' own sake but also as a source of enrichment for Swedish cultural life."

"People of Baltic origin have already made important contributions to Swedish scientific research and Swedish cultural life. I am convinced that they will do so in the future too."

"The second task is to extend intercommunication with the scientific and cultural institutions in the Baltic homelands. The rationale of this is historical tradition, geographical proximity and cultural background. Cultural exchange is the growth medium for versatility, tolerance and understanding between peoples, irrespective of economic and religious conditions."

He then discussed the immigration and minority policies of his Government as approved by parliament on May 14, aiming at making it possible for ethnic minority groups in Sweden to retain their own 'culture and language, and said that the Government counted on the efforts of immigrant and minority organizations to implement these policies. He said:

"We are prepared to implement much of immigrant policy through the immigrants' and the minorities' own organizations. They should, then, also be given specific economic assistance. As a first step, a total of 1.6 million Swedish crowns (some 400,000 US dollars) will be allocated in the next fiscal year to the democratically constituted national organizations of the immigrants and the minorities. In addition, the state will be granting subsidies to all organizations and local authorities arranging special projects for immigrants."

He continued with a special reference to the Baltic organizations in Sweden:

"I believe that the Baltic groups in Sweden are particularly well equipped to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the new immigration policy via their organizations. As in Sweden, Baltic cultural life is interwoven in a fabric of organizations. There we see adult education organizations, national and regional societies, choral and theatrical societies."

"It would not surprise me if one day research found that the basic reason why the Baltic peoples have been able to keep together during the squalls of history and to preserve their identity is the strength they have drawn through their organizations from their cultural heritage, their songs and traditions, their poetry, art, music and science. It is through organizations and culture that small peoples assert their individuality."

Ninety Papers on Baltic Themes

The first conference papers were read immediately after the opening ceremony. They included: "The Geopolitics of. the Baltic," (Prof. Toivo Miljan, Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo), "The German Federal Republic and the Baltic Question" (Prof. Boris Meissner, Cologne University), "The Question of the Baltic and the European Balance of Power in the Eighteenth Century" (Prof. Romuald J. Misiūnas, Williams College, Williamstown), and "The Problem of Nationalities in the Soviet Union" (dr. Bruno Kalninš, Baltic Institute).

In the afternoon of the same day the City of Stockholm gave a reception to delegates and to invited guests at the Stockholm City Hall, and flew the national flags of the Baltic republics in front of the building for the occasion.

This was followed by a tour of Stockholm, arranged by the Swedish Institute. It included visits to Stockholm University, to the Royal Library and to the National Record Office which had arranged an exhibition of documents concerning the Baltic area, inter alia the documents ordering the creation of Tartu University in 1632. The first day of the conference ended with a reception at the Wenner - Gren Center, arranged by Baltic organizations in Stockholm.

In the following three days the conference continued at Hasselby Manor House, the Nordic Culture Centre on the outskirts of Stockholm. A total of 90 papers were presented, each dealing with a different aspect of the Baltic countries and nations. The proceedings took place in four sections, history, social and political sciences, linguistics, literature and liberal arts. Papers which were deemed to be of interest to all participants were read at the daily plenary sessions, held before the section meetings. Such papers included: The Baltic Cultures in the German and Soviet Literatures (Prof. Anatole C. Matulis, the University of Wisconsin, Green Bay), Germany's Foreign - Political Relations with Latvia and Estonia in 1923-1932 (Prof. Walther Hubatsch, Bonn University), Cultural Autonomy of Minorities in Estonia 1925-1940 (Prof. Karl Aun, Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo), Finland and the Estonian War of Liberation (Seppo Zetterberg, Finnish Academy, Helsinki), International Economic Relations of the Baltic Countries (Prof. Dietrich A. Loeber, Kiel University).

The languages used at the Conference were English and German. The authors read summaries of their papers, which were followed by discussion. The papers will be published in full by the Baltic Institute.

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