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29.04.2024 12:32

Merkið veittraði í Edinburgh

Mynd: Uttanríkis- og vinnumálaráðið

Uttanríkis- og vinnumálaráðið

Sendistova Føroya til Bretlands skipaði í ár fyri flagsdagshaldi í Edinburgh. Flagdagshaldið varð hildið í prýðiliga býráðsalinum í Edinburgh, miðskeiðis á Royal Mile, og er hetta fyrstu ferð, at føroyskt flagdagshald verður hildið í Skotlandi.

Høgni Hoydal, landsstýrismaður í uttanríkis- og vinnumálum, bar fram røðu á haldinum.

Á tiltakinum bóru eisini Robert Aldridge, borgarstjóri (Lord Provost), Liam MacArthur, varaformaður í skotska tinginum og Angus Robertson, ráðharri í grundlógar-, uttanríkis- og mentamálum í skotsku stjórnini, fram røður.

Føroyingurin Dávur Juul Magnussen, ið er fyrsti trombonleikari í the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, framførdi saman við sangarum frá Glasgow University Chapel Choir.

Leif Sørensen borðreiddi við føroyskum ábiti og afturvið var øl frá Oy og Føroya Bjór. Dánjal Hoydal, stjóri í Faer Isle Distillery bjóðaði smakkiroyndir við ginn, vodka og akvavit.

Røðan hjá landsstýrismanninum:

Flying the flag for equality among nations

Lord Provost, Deputy Presiding Officer, Cabinet Secretary, distinguished Members of Parliament, Consuls, Ladies and Gentlemen, friends of the Faroe Islands;

Góðu føroyingar!

It is a great pleasure and honor for me to be with you all here this evening to celebrate Faroese Flag Day.

Thank you, Lord Provost, for your warm words of welcome to Edinburgh. It only adds to our pleasure and pride to be here in your charming Council Chamber, in the very heart of Scotland’s beautiful capital. I know I speak for my fellow Faroe Islanders when I say that Edinburgh has aways felt very much like a home away from home.

I am also extremely honored to be joined here at the podium by both the Deputy Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament, Liam MacArthur and Cabinet Secretary for Constitution, External Affairs and Culture, Angus Robertson. Distinguished colleagues – thank you both so much for coming to celebrate with us this evening.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Celebrating Flag Day in Edinburgh seems such an obvious choice, that I am surprised this is actually the first time it has been done. So let me thank our Representation in London for taking the initiative to gather us in Scotland this year, and for all their hard work in organizing this event.

Dear friends,

“Har ið merkini veittra, veittri eisini mítt!”

This line from the Faroese song to our flag – Merkið – captures the values and principles we wish to celebrate on our Flag Day. In my rough translation, it says: “Where the flags fly, let my flag fly equally amongst them”.

And that is what the whole story and the long struggle for our own flag has been all about: To become an equal part of the world. Taking our own responsibilities in the world together with the diverse peoples and nations around the globe. Respecting identity, equality, languages, cultures, history, international law and human rights.

But we all know that flags can symbolize something completely different. They can be symbols of quite the opposite. We can use our flags to oppress others. To say that my flag can only fly if yours is crushed and destroyed. That my freedom and identity can only prevail if you lose yours. Flags can be symbols of inequality and death and destruction of peoples’ and nations’ futures, which we see in the ongoing atrocities around the world today.

Where a flag at half-mast marking the mourning of lost loved ones and unthinkable suffering can be countered by another flag in a different place that is raised to celebrate victory in the same context.

Therefore, on a day like this, all our thoughts go to the peoples around the world suffering war, attacks, oppression and inequality. In Ukraine, Palestine, Israel, Yemen, Sudan and many other places in the world.

For the Faroe Islands, our Flag Day is one of the most tangible and enduring legacies of the Second World War. It embodies our close historical and geo-political ties with Britain. Merkið, as our flag is known in Faroese, was first designed and hoisted as a national banner in 1919. But it was on the 25th of April 1940 that the British Government officially recognised our flag as the ensign of the Faroe Islands. This was soon after Denmark had been taken over by the Nazis, and the British Government had decided to send armed forces to the Faroe Islands to prevent a German invasion. Flying the Danish flag was no longer an option, and certainly not for the many Faroese vessels transporting fish to Scotland.

Ever since, the 25th of April has been celebrated as Flag Day to mark this historical recognition. It is a public holiday and celebrations are held today all around the Faroes. In every Flag Day speech, in every village, on almost every island today, the role of Britain in our flag’s official history will be remembered.

Being in Scotland gives us the chance to highlight how many of the troops stationed in the Faroes during the war actually came from Scotland. Two of the main regiments on our shores during those five years of wartime occupation were the Lovat Scouts, followed by the Cameronians (Scottish Rifles).

With over 7000 troops at the height of the occupation, a number equal to around a third of the entire Faroese population at the time, it goes without saying that many close bonds were forged, some a lot closer than others. It is estimated that around 170 Faroese women left with British men after the war. We don’t know exactly how many of these fortunate young men were Scottish, or how many of these couples made their lives in Scotland, but there were certainly quite a few. They have laid the foundations for many close family connections between the Faroe Islands and Scotland that remain strong today, across the generations.

Of course, our shared history goes back much further, with centuries of close personal and commercial exchanges in both directions.  As far back as the Viking age, when the Faroes were first settled, there was a healthy portion of Celtic DNA in the mix, together with the Norse settlers.

We learnt from the Shetlanders in the mid-nineteenth century how to develop a commercial fishing industry. Fisheries continue to be an important part of our relationship today as closest neighbors, with a shared stake in sustainability and responsible management of marine resources.  In more recent years, fish farming has become a major new pillar in our economic cooperation. The Faroe Islands and Scotland have both become leading producers of quality salmon for the global seafood market. Faroese companies are making major investments in sustainable aquaculture in Scotland with the view to developing the industry for our mutual economic benefit.

But we also have so much more in common than fish. This Flag Day Celebration testifies to that!

The music on the program here this evening is a living example of the very strong cultural and artistic connections between the Faroes and Scotland. Dávur Juul Magnussen will explain more himself, as a professional Faroese musician playing with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. Scotland is hosting Nordic Music Days 2024 in Glasgow from 30th October to 3rd of November. This is a collaboration between the Nordic Composers Council and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, bringing many exciting Nordic musicians to Scotland to collaborate with their Scottish counterparts. Dávur and the Glasgow University Chapel choir will give us a taste of some of what is on the program in Glasgow later in this year.

Also with us here this evening is a delegation of key academic staff from the University of the Faroe Islands, who have come to Scotland this week to explore and discuss collaboration with universities in Scotland. They are looking to build on the MoU they have with the University of the Highlands and Islands in Inverness, where they are headed tomorrow.

Representatives from NORA are also here – the Nordic Atlantic Cooperation – which is a Nordic intergovernmental organisation that brings together the Faroe Islands, Greenland, Iceland, and coastal Norway. The Faroe Islands proudly host the NORA Secretariat in Tórshavn.  NORA is organising an event here in Edinburgh tomorrow to explore cooperation with Scotland on a project to highlight and promote UNESCO heritage sites across the North Atlantic region. We see Scotland as very much a part of our common region, and I believe that active Scottish participation is a valuable contribution to this strong and dynamic cross-border cooperation.

I myself am visiting Space Scotland tomorrow, where I am looking forward to hearing more about how new frontiers of research and development are being explored, and how we in the Faroes can  play our part together with Scotland. We do not lag behind when it comes to technology and the infrastructure needed to build a digital, big data future. Last week, Faroese Telecom launched 5G connectivity with 100% coverage for the entire population, as well as for bridges, ferries, tunnels and fishing boats up to 100 km out to sea.

Culture, research, education, innovation, technology, energy, digital communications, tourism and creative industries. These and many other areas of cooperation build bridges between nations and peoples – or perhaps I should call them “fixed links”.

This is how I like to think about our national flag – as our political “fixed link” to the rest of the world. It is a symbol of our nationhood and national identity. But without the opportunity to raise our flag alongside the flags of other countries of the world, its significance would be lost.

We do not celebrate our flag as a symbol of isolation or seclusion, but as a symbol of the Faroe Islands as a nation among nations.

Our flag can only fly proudly if we recognize the same rights to freedom and peace for all other nations and peoples. Let us put all our will and strength into stopping the atrocities and reestablishing an international order based on peace, equal rights and mutual respect.

So let me once again say how pleased and honored I am that you have all taken the time to join us for this celebration here today.

It is a celebration of our connection with Scotland, with the UK and with the rest of the world.

Takk fyri!