By Geoffrey Till

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For the Swedes, difficult decisions on government spending and priorities have to be faced with the 1987 Defence Plan. For the Norwegians, developments in the international oil market add particular difficulties to keeping up the impressive NATO armaments record since 1977 (and to maintaining societal consensus). There are few indicators that the Danish political system, with its characteristics of extreme minority parliamentary rule, will become more stable. The Nordic periphery - Finland, and Iceland - may today actually demonstrate the most obvious examples of traditional Nordic 'stability'.

Many of these have been between traditional alliesthose between the United Kingdom and Iceland (the 'Cod Wars') 16 The Political and Economic Context being the most famous. There have been others that have been solved either by bilateral agreement (Denmark-Sweden in the Baltic) or by conciliation (Norway-Iceland over Jan Mayen) or that remain to be agreed (Norway-Iceland-Denmark concerning Jan Mayen-lcelandGreenland). The most noticeable dispute between potential enemies is that over the delineation of the maritime frontier between Norway and the Soviet Union in the Barents Sea- some 155 000 km 2 .

The Nordic states are small states. Still, a measure of qualification is called for. The Swedes, for well-known Second World War and other historical reasons, have been far less chastened by their past than have their neighbours and there has also 21 22 A Swedish View been a marked tendency to view Sweden itself as a small power rather than a small state, a producer not a consumer of security, and this for the Nordic region as a whole. This is the result of an historical accident. Sweden after the Second World War, as a country virtually untouched by the general destruction in Europe, was propelled into an unexpected role as a strong military and economic power in the North, functioning as the supposed 'backbone' of the 'Nordic balance' with its strong air force, large field army, modern arms industry and sometime nuclear threshold status.

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