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Norseman with a mission remains undaunted in bid to reclaim isles
(From The Orcadian dated February 14, 2002)
The man behind attempts to reclaim the Northern Isles as Norwegian territory
remained undaunted in his mammoth task this week - despite the news that his
government do not seem to share his goal.
Christen Raestad, who heads up a Norwegian Group Vinjammer Friends, has
flagged up the fact that Orkney and Shetland were pawned to Scotland in the
15th century as a royal dowry.
Now's the time, he says, to return the isles to their rightful owners.
Brimming with enthusiasm, Mr Raestad wrote to Norwegian Minister for Foreign
Affairs pointing out that, in his view, the pawn status of the isles was
still valid and they therefore remained Norwegian.
The reply, however, was not a promising as he had hoped.
"We got an answer which was formally very correct, which you would expect
from a government office," he said.
"The conclusion was that the Norwegian authorities have no plans or wishes
of raising the issue of sovereignty of Orkney and Shetland today."
Ever the optimist and speaking with a tinge of humour in his voice, Mr
Raestad said he interpreted the use of the word 'today' as meaning there was
every chance of the cause being taken up by the government tomorrow.
"The Foreign Minister has a meaning of, 'this is a closed issue,' but we
interpret his use of 'today' as an opening for the future - but obviously he
did not mean it!" he said.
"Everybody seems to agree on the historical facts. The question is whether
533 years is such a long time that this issue should be a closed issue or
Mr Raestad said that in 1589, 120 years after the pawning in 1469, King
Christian IV of Denmark/Norway married his daughter Princess Anna to
Scottish King James VI.
"In the negotiations over the dowry, the Scottish delegation in claim number
six asked the Danish/Norwegian crown to give up the sovereignty over Orkney.
"The answer came the next day and that request was very distinctly rejected.
It was even taken as a clause that the Scots should not raise the issue
again while the two kings were reigning.
"Hence - when an issue over sovereignty was tested 120 years after the
pawning and both parties obviously then respected Danish/Norwegian
sovereignty, why should it not then also be valid after 533 years?"
One thing was for sure, he said, There would be no Viking invasion this time
round. Instead of the threat of longboats, Mr Raestad said there was spirit
of co-operation between Norway and the isles which he intended to build
Supporters of strengthening links between Orkney and Norway may draw the
line, though, at adopting Scandinavian prices.
A group of Orcadians, during a recent reunion in the country, were somewhat
surprised at the price of a pint - a staggering £8.