The Faroe Islands: Saint Olav’s dynamics

A new year starts for the Faroe Islands. An interesting year because some laws have to be voted and/or prolonged. Then on April 28, 2018, the Islands will vote for the status of the “Faroese Nation”. Since 1948, the Faroese Islands have a special status within the Kingdom of Denmark that contributes for a a great part to the existence of the Islands. But over the years, the Føroyar were granted a status of autonomy.

On July 29, 2017, the Faroe Islands celebrated their “national day” i.e. Ólavsøka (from Old Norse ólafsvaka, the day on which Olavur the Norwegian (Olav den Hellige, Ólavur hin Heilagur) passed away. A cruel man but a king who imposed Christendom. Interestingly, his feast is commemorated on the same date in the West (a major date for the Reformation movement as for the Catholic Church) as the Eastern Orthodox and Russian Church celebrated the memory of the Baptism of Saint Vladimir of the Rus of Kiev in 988 AD (Ukrainian Volodymyr, Norse Valdemar Gamli). Both were Scandinavian, the first was a Viking and the second a Variag.

There are hardly articles to be found on this Sunday in the Danish and international press, at least for the moment. As the Løgmaður/Lawman (Prime Minister) Aksel V. Johannesen declared in his speech today after the Church Service at the Cathedral of Tórshavn – Dómkirkja – during the meeting of the Parliament (Løgting/Lagting), the Islands have been in good shape and had been standing with a real development over the years. He compared the situation to dreams and how dreams can evolve. The Lawman referred to the seven years of prosperous times (the fat cows in the Bible) and the dire years (the lean cows as the Pharao had seen in his dreams and asked Joseph to advice him, which the strange did). The growth percentage should be of a bit more than 2% for 2018 comp. w/ 7,7% in the past years.

The appealing thing is how the Faroese nation is to develop in the coming months. As the Lawman stated, never before the Island had such an amount of inhabitants (note that they are open to the others, not framed), widened their economic capacities even at seeing Peugeot arriving in the Islands. This is quite interesting if compared with Denmark that has a geenral politics of “framing attitude” wrt the refugees and migrants, esp. from the Middle-East. The Faroe Islands are definitely open to people of different backgrounds. Over the past forty years, the population evolved from a small community to international capacities, absorbing temporary workers and professionals from all the continents. There are also Erythreans, Chinese, Hindu people and connections with Poland, Russia.

Now, there are projects, there are needs, there are growing signs of impoverishment, the requirement to get medical structures and competent professionals. As the Faroese newspapers (Norðlýsið) recalled on Saturday night, 666 days have passed since the ecision in 2015 to correct the ups and downs of the Fishing Industry that is so vital for the small North Atlantic “embryo” self-ruled or independent country. Quite an apocalyptic amount of days rather linked to some devilish turn, if any, very Scriptural as many things still are in the Islands. There maybe some “Satanic” twisting tendencies that drive some Fishery bodies to play their own game while the economic structures of the Island turnover, financial settlements and development should gather together in order to build a strong internationally recognized framework. Ships are getting remote and the Faroe Islands should find inland task forces and spiritual dynamics to face the challenge they have been dreaming for decades now: how to cope with the requirements of some sort of real independence in the present-day context.

Aksel V. Johannesen also underscored the poor medical structures of the Islands. New physicians, specialists fail in different places and this is a real health issue in various places. Moreover, there are more needy and poor people and the level of pensions has to be updated. As it often has been the case for the Faroese people, the youth have to leave to study abroad. at the present, they can study in mainland Denmark but many would prefer to go to Norway, Iceland, Great-Britain and some European countries. As a matter of fact, some Faroese “bosses” have acquired a good reputation all over the world and some can be found in India, Australia, North America, Jordan inter alia. It is far more difficult to find a common project and build a State made of eighteen inhabited islands. The population has increased, indeed, but other islands only retain a few families.

The Faroe Islands are much appreciated for their “wool” fashion articles, forward musicians and singers and their football team.

In her predication at the Cathedral, young woman prestur Anne Mette Greve Klemensen, insisted on faith, good deeds, assistance and dialogue, as a societal requirement in the growing Faroese society.

The Faroe Islands are located in the middle of the North Atlantic, thus holding a strategic position between countries and nations that have different State structures.

They are naturally open to Scandinavia and Nordic countries, Iceland… contemplates the real development of Greenland and is on the way to Scotland, Ireland, Great-Britain and Wales. This is quite impressive, but the Faroese “governmental body” is maybe not that trained as for now to insightful develop economic profits to such a level that outside funding can progressively be reduced.

It is usually difficult for a small country that always has been assisted financially to reac ha real level of freedom. This is even more problematic since this situation must be compared with an overall system of loans and non-refunded borrowings that became the modern pattern of most capitalistic countries and the European Community, the Nordic Council. The Faroe Islands have to settle their debts and see how the country could enhance its competences. When checking the different organizations based in the Islands, it is clear that some shops, offices, promoting activites – also in the field of local tourism that can be terrific – are obsolete, not updated. Cohesion and dynamics would require a national review of the real values that do exist among the local people. The Faroese are definitely a nice and courageous nation.

Maybe some answer can be found in the religious if not the denominational context of the islanders. The Faroe Islands have traditionally been Lutheran Christian and, since 2007, the “National Church – Fólkakirkja” that is independent from the “Danske Kirke, the Church of Denmark”. The Islanders tend to be more “religious or practicing” than the other nations of Europe. Is it due to isolation ? The Faroese are aware of the surrounding dangers, working on boards the ships, working with fishery, constant rain or, at least most often a rainy weather. Religion and true faith evolved in the Islands where the mainstream remains Lutheran, but there is a small Catholic community (Franciscan Missionary of Mary) and different self-ruled denominational groups like the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Other influences can be felt from New Wave circles. The Messianic Movement is quite trendy and the affiliated new Protestant communities. There are also some Seventh-Day Adventists and a few Bahai’s.

As the Prime Minister mentioned, in his Yesterday’s speech at the Løgting (Faroese Parliament), charity activities are important for this nation. While the news keep silent about the drama that happened in Greenland (Siumut) where earthquakes destroyed bouses and a village, the Faroese nation does intervene to help the Greenlanders.

One should also mention their long and steadfast combat to impose their highly ancient and interesting language that has wittingly been reconnected with Icelandic orthographic etymology. This was the huge work of the Lutheran parish priest Venceslaus Ulricus Hammershaimb (1819-1909) who was also a folklorist and collected the national “sagas’ heritage and ballades – Færöiske Kvæder”, creating the modern written Faroese language in the mid-19th century.

During the live television show programmed for Ólavsøka 2017, Kringvarp Føroya (Faroese TV and Radio) broadcast on the language and the writing of the early poems, books in Faroese, to begin with some explanations on how Símon av Skarði and Petur Alberg wrote and created the music for the “National Anthem” – “Tú alfagra land mítt – Thou fairest land of mine” in 1906.

New Parliament session will take place in Tinganes (Thorshavn – Tórshavn) on August 1st next.

Let’s wait and see with confidence and care. Góða eydnu, Föroyar – good luck, Faroe Islands.