Small countries apply moral pressure

The large Per Kirkeby Auditorium in the Lakeside Lecture Theatres was filled to overflowing when President of Ireland Mary McAleese spoke on Tuesday 12 October at Aarhus University. The title of her lecture was “Small States in the New World Order”. In her view, small countries like Ireland and Denmark play an important role on the international political stage – a role which both Ireland and Denmark have fully embraced. Even though Ireland and Denmark differ in many ways and have not faced the same challenges, both countries have often had common goals with their contributions to the global development, as members of international organisations and as stakeholders in diplomatic relations. They both work to ensure that the large countries do not steamroll their political and business agendas through for their own benefit and at the expense of others. President McAleese spoke about the “moral pressure” that Denmark and Ireland can place on the large countries – for instance on such issues as green technology and foreign aid, where she highlighted Denmark as a pioneering country.

She explained that thanks to its EU membership, Ireland has experienced overwhelming financial growth in a relatively short period of time. But with poverty still fresh in the collective memory, the Irish people feel a moral duty to help other countries with financial challenges and feel a strong sense of solidarity with the rest of Europe. The fight for peace is also a matter that is close to Ireland’s heart – just as it is for Denmark, the president said.

And with the global financial crisis, the small countries play an even more important role. Their commitment to and insistence upon cooperation and a common approach is helping to ensure that everyone learns from the crisis, rather than focusing solely on finding their own way out of it. That is why countries like Ireland and Denmark have much to offer the world, concluded President McAleese.

See the whole lecture.