There are many typographical and orthographical errors in the original. They are listed at the end of this etext. No corrections have been made.
In the second part of the book lines of dashes are used to represent omissions in excerpts. There are represented in this etext by [— — —] or [— —].
THE SWEDISH-NORWEGIAN UNION CRISIS
A History With Documents
K. NORDLUND PH D.
Upsala & Stockholm Almqvist & Wiksell Ltd Printed by Almqvist & Wiksell Ltd, Upsala 1905
Author's Introductory Remarks.
The following work is intended to give an insight into the Swedish-Norwegian Crisis. It has been the Author's endeavour to attain this object, partly by a condensed account of the events of the last few years, partly by a collection of suitable extracts from documents referring to this crisis. Choice in the last items has been confined to the most important ones. Touching the Consular negotiations only the discussions on the most disputed points are given.
In dealing with some of the statements in Nansen's brochure the author does not intend a exhaustive criticism of the said work, but has only tried to show, by a few instances, the treatment pure and distinct facts have been submitted to, in these days, by Norwegian agitation. The number of instances could be multiplied many times over. If the following representation has caught the tone of present feeling in Sweden, it must be excused. The Author is, however, convinced that this has not disadvantageously affected his account of the actual facts of the case.
Upsala. August 1905.
A. History. Sid. I. Reasons for Union Crisis. Development of Sweden's and Norway's different reform programmes 1-8
II. Contents of the charge of 1885 in Sec. 11 of Sweden's Constitution. First development of Consular Question. Union Committee 1895-98 8-19
III. Consular Committee of 1902. Birth and contents of Communique 19-28
IV. Treaties on the identical laws 29-38
V. Norwegian accusations caused by breakdown of Consular Negatiations 38-46
VI. Development of Crisis this year until the time of the Extra-Ordinary session of Swedish Riksdag 46-64
VII. Supposed and real causes of Norwegian revolution 64-67
1. Acts from Norway's "Grundlov" 71
2. Acts from "Riksakten". (Special laws relating to Union) 72
3. Preparatory agreement, in Consular question, between Swedish and Norwegian Cabinet Councils (so called Communique) 73
4. Extract from Norwegian Government's proposal referring to identical laws 75
5. Extract from Bostroem's reasons for identical laws 76
6. Extract from Hagerup's Answer 77
7. Extract from Swedish Government's proposal regarding identical laws 78
8. Extract from Norwegian Cabinet Council's Memorandum on account of this proposal 79
9. Extract from Swedish Cabinet's answer 82
10. Report on proceedings of Cabinet Council held on 7th February 1905 83
11. Crown Prince-Regent's address to Special Committee of Storthing 85
12. Report on proceedings of Cabinet Council held on 5th April 1905 86
13. Motion on Union Question in Swedish Riksdag's Upper Chamber 87
14. Motion on Union Question in Swedish Riksdag's Lower Chamber 88
15. Norwegian Government's "proposal" of 17th April 1905 89
16. Report on proceedings of Cabinet Council held on 25th April 1905 92
17. Swedish Riksdag's Statement on Union Question 93
18. Norwegian Minister's Notice of resignation 94
19. Report on proceedings of Norwegian Cabinet Council 27th May 1905 94
20. King's telegraphic protest against Norwegian Government's Statement 97
21. Norwegian Ministers' announcement to King of resignation 97
22. King's telegraphic protest 98
23. Storthing's President's proposal for conclusion 7th June 1905 99
24. Storthing's address to King Oscar 99
25. King's telegraphic protest 101
26. Report of proceedings of Cabinet Council held on 9th June 1905 101
27. King's letter to Storthing 10th June 1905 102
28. Storthing's reply 106
[Sidenote: The object of the Union dispute.]
Not till the present day has the Swedish-Norwegian Union Crisis presented itself in the eyes of Europe in a thoroughly acute phase. Its origin, in reality, dates as far back as the foundation of the Union itself.
[Sidenote: The efforts to give Norway a better position in the Union.]
The original cause of the agitating union disputes has been that Sweden, from the very commencement of the Union, has internationally borne the responsibility for the same, in other words, conducted the political affairs of both Kingdoms. The inequality produced hereby, the Norwegians on their part have striven to efface. Sweden has also for a long time shown herself willing to establish full equality in the Union, at the same time that she has accommodated herself to Norway in questions of detail. As far back as 1835 it was acknowledged, on the part of Sweden, that Norway's position in the Union was not in accordance with the claims of equity. Thus by a Royal Decree that year the Norwegian Minister of State at Stockholm was admitted into the Swedish so-called Ministerial Council to take part in foreign matters which concerned Norway. In 1839 the first great Union-Committee was formed, and both in this one, and two later—the last 1895-98—Norway was offered from the Swedish side complete equality in the Union on certain conditions. Added to this Sweden has on several occasions granted partial concessions. Some have been accepted by Norway—as for instance the law passed in 1844 concerning equality in Government Symbols etc. etc.—others again were refused—as the offer in 1885 and 1891 of increased influence in the administration of Foreign affairs. If offers of equality worded in more general terms are added—as in 1893 and during the present year—, NANSEN'S characterising Sweden's Union policy as "90 years' labour to procure a supremacy for Sweden",—ought to appear in its true colours[2:1].
[Sidenote: Unauthorized accusations against Sweden for endeavouring to gain the supremacy.]
The accusations against Sweden for endeavouring to acquire the supremacy have, time after time, arisen from a mixture of various matters, partly the different conceptions of the legal character of the existing Union, partly the different programmes for the reformation of the Union.
Owing to the very indistinct and confused wording in the legal documents of the Act of Union the Swedish and Norwegian conceptions of the Union itself have finally become so antagonistic to each other, that the unionistic transactions have, in an excessive degree, taken the character of a continual judicial process, and the real questions have been more or less ignored[2:2]. Swedish Policy on its part has always maintained that Sweden's supremacy in the Union is based on legal grounds. It has especially insisted that the administration of Foreign affairs was, from the first, placed in Sweden's hands[2:3], and this Swedish standpoint has also been acknowledged as the right one by the most eminent of Norwegian writers on State law[3:1]. But of late those on the Norwegian Left Side have made stronger and stronger efforts to prove, that the order existed on no legal grounds, that Norway, as a Sovereign Kingdom, had the right, for instance, to create an entire Foreign Office of its own. And under this influence the Norwegian sensitiveness has in Sweden's defence of her conception of Union Law persisted more and more in seeing insulting "designs of supremacy".
Meanwhile future prospects and reform programmes have had little to do with the Swedish conception of the legal character of the Union. The most extreme representatives of the so-called supremacy partizans—to mention one, the late professor OSCAR ALIN—have on different occasions maintained reform programmes, built on the principle of perfect equality within the Union, and it must be asserted that no Swedish political party in recent times has refused perfect equality to Norway[3:2].
[Sidenote: The different programmes of Sweden and Norway for reforming the Union.]
That the result seems to become the rupture of the Union, and not the reorganization of the same has depended on more and more insurmountable oppositions in opinions concerning the manner and the aim for a reform.
Sweden has, as a rule, preferred the entire reorganization, Norway the partial—the consequence being, for instance, the struggles in the so-called Stadtholder disputes in the sixties of the last century. Sweden has held her standpoint, especially as she has considered it to the interest of the Union to insist on creating perfect equality by concessions also from Norway, and it seemed that these demands could not gain sufficient consideration unless the reorganization was complete[4:1].
Sweden has furthermore insisted on negotiations and agreements, as the natural road to reform; how Norway has more and more allowed herself to take matters into her own hands, shall now be more clearly explained.
Above all, however, the differences of opinion respecting the aim of the reform have become more and more pronounced. Sweden has adhered to a Union, which outworldly represents a perfect unity, and tried to create a safe and secure Union. Norway has, by degrees, in her ever increasing overwrought sensitiveness, developed her reform programme towards a purely personal union, behind which the rupture of the Union has stood as the main object in view.
The connection of the Norwegian Union with the inner party struggles in Norway, has had a disastrous effect on the development of the Norwegian programme, especially since 1885.
Through the Constitutional Crisis in 1884, when the Royal Powers were forced—practically if not legally—to capitulate in essentials to the orthodox parliamentarism, the Norwegian party champions became in need of new programmes upon which to fling themselves. It was then, that the Norwegian radicals through the demand for their own Minister of State for Foreign Affairs cast a firebrand into the very midst of the Norwegian people[5:1], who to that time had stood unanimous towards the claim of a mutual Foreign Minister of State for the Union. In the struggle for the political ascendency chauvinistic strongwords became more and more rife. The national sensitiveness, already considerable, became excited to the utmost under the influence of the suggestive eloquence of BJOeRNSON and other agitators. The suspiciousness disaffection towards Sweden increased. The Swedish brethren were pointed at by BJOeRNSON as the only enemy Norway had, and even in the schoolrooms and school-books their (Swedish) hereditary enemy was spoken of with curses. Simultaneously the "Norwegians of the Future" buried themselves deeper and deeper in the study of "Ancient Glorious Norway". Imagination was fed on Norwegian heroic Sagas and Viking exploits, and the ancient National Saint of Norway, Olaf the Holy, was unearthed from his long-forgotten hiding place for renewed worship[5:2].
This overwrought sentimental policy, of course, caused national pride and all its requisite claims, to raise a cloud over Sweden and the Union, and the essential principles in the Union Question became of less and less importance. How totally void of essential principles the recent Norwegian Union Policy has been, is most obvious in the matter of effacing the Union Symbol from the mercantile flag having for a long period of years played a dominating role in Norwegian party politics[6:1]. It became the more and more hopeless task of Sweden and the Union King to maintain the cause of the Union without support from the dominant left party in Norway. The Norwegian radical party in their blind fanaticism were scarcely capable of rational action with any feeling of real political responsibility; the friendly attitude towards Russia as their friend in need, of BJOeRNSON and other radicals, was quite sufficient proof of this. It is true, that one party—the Norwegian Right Side—, for a long time inclined to a more favourable view of the Union, has supported the King in his efforts to oppose the dissolving of the Union, but in the fight for the political supremacy, the power of nationalism over minds has gradually undermined its position as a pillar of the Union, and at the present period of violently agitated feeling, the party has almost entirely vanished from the "national junction."
[Sidenote: Sweden's later Union policy.]
During the process of this chauvinistic hysteria, Swedish politicians have naturally had an exceedingly delicate problem to solve. On one point opinion in Sweden has been unanimous. It has emphatically refused to accept a mere personal Union as a solution of the question. This on two grounds: one for the Union, the other for the Nation. The interests of the Union imperatively demanded outward unity, in order that the Union might be able to fulfil its purpose preserving security to the Scandinavian Peninsula in relation to Foreign powers. National interest saw in a personal union, and generally in every more radical rupture of the bonds of the Union, a risk that the influence of Sweden would thereby become unduly lessened. For if Sovereign power became the only essential bond of Union, there would be the risk of the balance of power drifting into the hands of the Storthing (especially after the events of 1884 when the Sovereign power of the King was weakened), a risk that has at the present conjuncture of affairs already made itself felt.
But if Sweden has thus been unanimous in demanding a joint administration of Foreign affairs, it might be found within the range of possibilities, for the sake of peace and quietness, to grant concessions in certain matters, which in reality from an union point of view seemed both unnecessary and undesirable. They may have complain as much as they like of the Norwegian national obstinacy, of their sickly fears of any sort of "confusion"; their inability to comprehend the requirements of the Union; it remained, however, a fact, that it was necessary to take into account, and indeed, it was a duty to respect it to a certain extent, as it originated in no slight degree from feelings fed by the subordinate position Norway had always held in years gone by. Swedish policy had thus to face two alternatives, either firmly and inexorably to insist on the Swedish demands for the amendment of the Union, conscious that they were in the interests of the Union, and like wise the real interest of Norway; or make a compromise, be contented with a partially disorganized Union, which by its bonds outwardly at least, preserved the appearance of the Scandinavian Peninsula's unity to Europe. The currents of the Union Policy in Sweden have swayed between these two possibilities, but if we follow it along the whole of its course, we shall see that Swedish Policy has always made a way for concessions. In the Union Committee of 1867 the Swedish members insisted on a Union Parliament as the stipulation of a joint Foreign Office; the Swedish majority in the Committe of 1898 abandoned that decision and contented itself with a joint Court of impeachment as a forum for appeal against the mutual Foreign Minister of the Union, but it insisted on maintaining the necessity of having mutual Consular representatives; during the present year, the King and the Riksdag have unanimously approved of the principles of a new arrangement with separate Consuls for Sweden and Norway. It is perhaps too soon to now judge between the lines followed by Swedish Union politicians, but in any case, it can scarcely be a matter of surprise that Swedish Policy has but slowly and gradually given up its claims. In order to preserve harmony, Sweden has been forced to do it, on account of the responsibility she once undertook on behalf of the Union, but no direct national interests have influenced the concessions and the enticing reward—harmony within the Union, the prospect of getting Norway honestly to meet her half way—has been sufficiently uncertain, in fact, the above mentioned concessions have seemed to possess a remarkable faculty for drawing forward new claims.
[2:1] NANSEN (English edition). The same author writes (page 62): "Finally in 1903(!) the Swedish Government declared openly that the present arrangement was not in accordance with Norway's just demands for equality in the Union." How such a statement can be made is simply incomprehensible.
[2:2] How the Norwegian Storthing, made up as it is, of large numbers of lawyers, has contributed to this, is well known to all.
[2:3] On this account, it has especially been vindicated that the Act of Union plainly indicates a joint Foreign Policy, which is scarcely possible without a joint Foreign Administration; that the same Act of Union only acknowledges the Swedish Foreign Minister of State as the head of the Foreign Administration for the Union; that in the "Eidswold Constitution", at the commencement of the Union, the paragraph referring to the Norwegian Foreign Minister of State was simply ignored. This last inconvenient fact is interpreted by the modern Norwegian theory of State Law as implying, that the Norwegian Constitution has left the administration of Foreign affairs to the King personally, who, in his turn on the grounds of this authority has placed it in the hands of the Swedish Minister of Foreign Affairs. NANSEN (page 49 and following.) The artfulness of this legal construction becomes immediately obvious. It is exceedingly remarkable also to find that Norwegian parliamentarism can commit such a blasphemy towards the Constitution, that it has confered a position of importance on the King Himself.
[3:1] The Norwegian Right Side (Conservative) has not either emphatically disputed the Swedish conception.
[3:2] Illustrative of the Norwegian way of confusing the Swedish legal conception and the Swedish amendment programme in the Union question is an expression of NANSEN (page 61). According to him "the Swedish government as late as 1891 appeared, as already mentioned, inclined to deny Norway every right of taking part in the administration of foreign affairs", while in 1893 the Swedish Government offered a joint Minister for Foreign Affairs for the Union. The state of the case was, that the Swedish Government in 1891 offered Norway increase of influence in Foreign affairs, but in motioning this offer the Swedish legal point of view was maintained, that the administration of Foreign (diplomatic) affairs for the Union by the Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs was founded on legal right. Reflections arise of themselves.
[4:1] Sweden has especially tried to annul the paragraph 25 of Norway's fundamental law which limits the duty of its Union defence. According to this paragraph, the Yeomanry and other Norwegian troops, that cannot be reckoned as belonging to the line, may not be employed outside the boundaries of the Kingdom. This law has proved so much the more pernicous, as the Norwegians by their recruiting regulations have illoyally withdrawn from the Union-defence part of their fighting forces, by outrageously entering into the line a limited number only of the annual classes of recruits.
[5:1] Mr HAGERUP also affirmed openly in the Storthing of 1904 that the Union question had in quite too high a degree come to be regarded by the Norwegian parties as a workshop of weapons for elections campaigns.
[5:2] We get a glimpse of this romance, in the midst of the ultra modern "glorious" revolution. At a large meeting at Hamar it was decreed, that the new King should bear a name after one on the ancient Kings of Norway. In a festival number of a "Vordens Gang" in honour of the revolution we find printed a "Psalm on Olaf's Day" written by BJOeRNSON.
[6:1] That Norway in carrying out the law (1899) respecting the flag, broke an agreement with Sweden made in 1844, was of course only in conformity with everything else.
[Sidenote: The Consul question.]
The Consular Question is a red thread running through the history of the Union struggles during the last fourteen years—
[Sidenote: The change in the Swedish Constitution of 1885.]
The Norwegians on their part in attempting to defend the way in which the Left Side started the Union Policy in the beginning of 1890, always allude to what happened in Sweden in 1885[8:1].
What was it then that happened in 1885?
[Sidenote: Norway's attitude to the same.]
By the amendment of the Swedish Constitution, the Prime Minister was also in the Ministerial Council (for Foreign affairs), so that the Council instead of having only two members, ever after had three, the object being to guarantee that the Cabinet Council should be more fully represented in they the in administration of Foreign affairs. Now, as previously mentioned, by a Royal Decree in 1835 the Norwegian Prime Minister at Stockholm was admitted into the Ministerial Council when foreign affairs affecting the two Kingdoms were negotiated. Thus Norway by the proposed Constitutional amendment was supposed to occupy a somewhat more unfavourable position than formerly. But Sweden immediately offers a more extended representation in the Council for Foreign affairs, which offer, however, is, for some inexplicable reason, refused by Norway on formal grounds. In the year 1891 this offer was renewed, but then the majority on the Left Side of the Storthing finds a very excellent reason for refusing the proposition, by pointing out, that the Swedish Council in motioning towards the proposed amendment in the Act of Union (not in the proposed paragraph itself) maintains the stand-point that Sweden's leadership in the administration of Foreign affairs is founded on legal right[9:1].
But something else is said to have happened in 1885, which was not discovered by the Norwegian side till several years later, and which, being exposed by the Norwegian agitation in these days, offers to we Swedes the delights of novelty. Formerly foreign affairs were supposed to be administered chiefly by the Swedish King personally, and the Minister for Foreign Affairs is said to have stood in a more personal relation to the King. Foreign Affairs under such circumstances were supposed to be more impartially treated, so that even Norway's lawful interests could receive due attention. But by the amendment of the Constitution of 1885 the Swedish Foreign Minister would be entirely subservient to Swedish Parliamentarism, which made the employment of the Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs, in the protection of Norwegian interests, still more dissatisfactory for Norway than formerly. This is pretended to have become the source of the last twenty year's Union struggle[9:2]. Now the state of the case is this, the Foreign Minister's parliamentary responsibility has not been increased by the amendment of the Constitution in 1885. Formerly he was—just as he is now— responsible, as reporter, in the first place for all resolutions in Foreign affairs. The point that was formally confirmed by law in 1885 was, that the Minister for Foreign Affairs should also prepare matters concerning foreign affairs. According to the older version of the paragraph that was altered that year (1885), the King was invested with greater rights in reference to that side of the administration of foreign affairs. Thus the amendment of the Constitution in 1885 only effected that the actual influence of the Minister for Foreign Affairs on Sweden's foreign policy was brought into harmony with the formal responsibility he held in all cases for Sweden's Foreign policy. It may be added that this constitutional amendment only confirmed the old practice, as the Minister for Foreign Affairs was formerly regularly employed to prepare matters concerning foreign affairs, and that his previous employment in the preparation of foreign affairs was naturally carried out under observation of the responsibility in which he stood for the resolutions taken, and was not inspired by any mysterious personal relations to the King. The whole of this Norwegian notion of the fatal influence on the Union in this constitutional amendment, is, in fact, nothing but a manufactured theory containing no real grounds whatsoever.
Now it must be observed that Norway had formerly no regular parliamentary control over foreign affairs, but the Swedish offer of 1891 was just intended to give the Norwegian Storthing the right to this control, to be exercised under the same conditions as those in the Swedish Diet. But the Storthing refused (as previously mentioned) the Swedish offer; it preferred to keep the quarrel alive, and in order to do this, it was necessary to be able to refer to Swedish oppression.
[Sidenote: The Norwegian radicals' method of taking matters into their hands.]
The Swedish offer being thus refused, the Norwegian Union politics in 1891 took a new turn. The road was already pointed out by the veteran leader of the Left Side (separatists) JOHAN SVERDRUP; it was indicated "to take matters into our own hands". The system was founded on the Norwegian Left Side State-law theory, according to which Norway, as a Sovereign state, was entitled to its own Minister for Foreign Affairs, its own diplomatic representatives and consuls, all of which was proved with much craft by the Constitution of Norway and the Act of Union between Sweden and Norway. The right to one and all to which Norway, as a Sovereign power, was entitled, should now be realized, independently and boldly, without consulting Sweden. By Royal Decree, the Storting having granted the means, a Norwegian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Norwegian Diplomatic Representatives and consuls should be appointed without delay in the Norwegian Council. Thus the lines of the future politics of Norway were fixed by the Separatists[10:1].
It is obvious, that the notion of the one Kingdom in a Union being able, of its own accord without consulting the other Kingdom, to alter and dissolve the bonds of Union, is theoretically inimical to the Union itself, and in fact shows enormous disloyalty to the other half of the Union. A Union policy of this sort is, of course, in spirit, completely revolutionary, and at the outset has no place within the Union. Nevertheless it has been followed under continued official protestations of fidelity to the Union—the last speech of this sort was heard a short time ago, when the well known road was fully marked out, right away to the object so long hovering in view. This is not the only piece of duplicity in Norwegian Union policy of whech Sweden has had to complain.
There was a cautious beginning with "their own Consuls"; it was too venturesome a task to begin the system at once with the question of their own Minister for Foreign Affairs.
[Sidenote: The real innecessity of having separate Consuls.]
On the side of Norway it has been claimed that the mercantile interests of Norway demanded a Consular Service of its own[11:1]. In reality, it is an indisputable fact, even acknowledged by Norwegians, that no essentially practical inconvenience has been caused by the system of having a joint Consular Service. The Circles most affected by the matter in Norway, Commercial men and ship-owners—were in opposition for a long time; not even in 1891 did the separatists venture to lay the Consular Committee's deliberations on the subject before the mercantile authorities. One Norwegian, who was well competent to judge of the matter, acknowledged openly, when the question was first broached, that "the grounds of the proposition for a complete separation as being of benefit to the shipping, commerce, and industry of the country, are so weak, that it would be impossible for them except, through persistent agitation to gain conviction, either among the classes most interested, or amongst the masses of the people". There are principally two reasons for the proposed reform, first that Sweden and Norway have a different Tariff-System, secondly, the frequent rivalry between Swedish and Norwegian trade articles of export. The first reason is baseless, as the different Tariff-Systems are of importance chiefly for the imports, and not for the exports[12:1]; the second reason loses its chief point by the fact that consuls are not commercial agents, that it is not their business to promote trade for private individuals, but only to give reports of the possibilities of trading with different countries. It is also worthy of mention, that in Sweden not the slightest wish has been expressed in this direction, though at present the majority of the Consuls abroad are Norwegians. And as regards the much-talked of fears, that in the administration of the Consular Service by the Foreign Office, partiality might be exercised in the interests of Sweden, the fact that for a long time past the whole of the mercantile portion of the Consuls' duties have, on Norway's side, been performed by one of the Norwegian Government Departements, proves how vain those fears were.
[Sidenote: The real object of raising the consular question.]
Norwegian separatists, among others MICHELSEN himself, long ago, in a moment of rare sincerity, have acknowledged that other motives besides the practical have been at the root of the claim for reform. A Norwegian Consular Service meant, in itself, a step in the direction of the rupture of the bonds of Union, and was therefore even then an object worth striving for. But it was also openly declared, that a Norwegian Consular Service would necessarily be succeeded by a Norwegian diplomatic representation and a Norwegian Minister for Foreign Affairs. "Directly they have got the wedge fixed into the small end", wrote in 1892 President HANS FORSSELL, "they will try to persuade us that there will be no danger in letting them drive it in a bit". Above all they considered that a Norwegian Consular Service would by degrees disorganize the administration of the Foreign Office, and on the grounds of the dominating role interests of economy play in the Foreign politics of our day, it would by degrees expand into a regular Norwegian Foreign Office.
[Sidenote: Want of Union motives for Consular reform.]
The chief characteristic of this programme is the total absence of any motive for it from a Union point of view. Modern Norwegian Nationalism has only really thought of Sweden and Norway, but not of the Union and its claims. Whenever Sweden has ventured to advocate the cause of the Union, Norway has begun to talk of the interests of Sweden. If, at any time, the claims of the Union have been discussed in Norway, they have usually been identical with those of Norway. The interests of the Union demanded that Norway, without further parley, got what its national sensitive feeling was pleased to decree as the Sovereign Norway's right. That is about the gist of the matter. The Norwegian policy has by degrees become blind to the fact, that the interests of the Union ought to demand a subordination of the inclination to decide arbitrarily on points touching the Union, both for the sake of Sweden and—of Norway.
[Sidenote: Misinterpretation of the King's opposition.]
When therefore the King, in the interests of the Union, at first opposed both the Consular reform itself and the manner of carrying it out, they did not see the King of Norway, or the King of the Union, only the King of Sweden, the veto of the King of Norway was called the Swedish veto against the rightful claims of Norway. This dishonest doctrine has gradually poisoned the minds of the people of Norway, and it is this, that has brought about the rupture of the Union.
[Sidenote: The raising of the Consular question in 1891.]
Under strong protest from the Norwegian Right Side (Conservative), which at that time looked upon a separate Consular Service under a mutual diplomatic administration as introducing something hitherto unheard of in the annals of history, the consular question was brought to the decision by the Norwegian Left Side. By an order of the Storthing, the method was established: the Consular question was exclusively a Norwegian matter, which must be treated and decided upon by Norwegian authorities of State alone; on the other hand the winding up of the joint Consular Service would be a cause of negotiations with Sweden. In plain words, the Royal Decree must be given in a Norwegian Cabinet Council, not in a so-called Joint Cabinet consisting of both Swedish and Norwegian members, which according to the Act of Union must decide in all questions "concerning the two Kingdoms[14:1]." And this one-sided right of decision was maintained in spite of the common Consular statutes—the last in 1886 —having been confirmed by a Joint Cabinet, and in spite of the fact that these statutes prescribed the settlement of Consular Affairs in that Council alone. Added to this, the relations of the future Norwegian Consular Service to the Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs and diplomatic representatives had also to be arranged. This matter might certainly be considered, to belong to the negotiations relating to the winding up of the joint Consular Service. But if Norway resolved that a separate Consular Service should be established within a given time, it would be Norway's prerogative to dictate the conditions of winding it up; Norway might without further ceremony withdraw a portion of its Foreign affairs from the joint Foreign administration.
Through its leader, EMIL STANG, the Norwegian Conservatives supported the Union King's view that the matter was as yet too imperfectly developed, and that it must be decided on in a joint Cabinet. But in 1892 the Storthing resolved, with a majority of 14 votes, on the establishment of a Norwegian Consular Service. The King was prepared to refuse the sanction to this, in a Norwegian Cabinet Council, and then and there began the conflict between King and Council, as witnessed by the events of later times. The character of this conflict may be mentioned already here, as Norway, in fact, was even then, in 1892, on the eve of the revolution, which has now broken out.
[Sidenote: "The King and the Ministry" according to the Norwegian Constitution.]
When the Constitution of Norway was framed in 1814, the Continent was but little acquainted with the pure parliamentarism, with a ruling Council and a powerless King. The Constitution is instead based on the theory of the division of the state power into three organs, and this is plainly stated in the division of the Constitution. The King's veto over legal questions is only suspensive, but he is not represented as the helpless tool of Storthing and Council. The Cabinet Council is certainly responsible to the Storthing, but only for its own advice, not for the King's Decrees. The King is legally bound to listen to the opinions of his ministers, but the right of making Decrees according to his own judgment, is expressly reserved to him. Nor does the Constitution of Norway recognize the law of refusing countersignature, which is found for instance in the Swedish Constitution. In 1814 the Storthing explicitly refused a proposition to give the Cabinet Council this right, declaring that the King ought not to be deprived of all his privileges. All the King's Decrees must be countersigned by one of the Prime Ministers, but this countersignature implies only the responsibility for the agreement of the records with the resolutions taken. The greatest Norwegian writers on State Law, have acknowledged that this is Norwegian National Law[15:1]. Furthermore the Constitution originally did not recognize something else remarkable for modern parliamentarism: the Ministers were not even allowed to attend the debates of the Storthing. Then came the Crisis of 1884, when the Norwegian Radicals with the Court of impeachment a weapon, forced the King to capitulate, forced him to summon a Radical Ministry, and to sanction an amendment of the Constitution, by which the Ministery were allowed to attend the debates in the Storthing. By this means, the modern parliamentarism, with all its claims, elbowed its way into Norwegian State life. But the old prescriptions as to the responsibility of the Cabinet Council, were retained, and they must naturally be interpreted as of old. The new parliamentary interpretation of these prescriptions of responsibility, especially the right of refusing countersignature, was opposed by the King, who adhered to the old only possible forms.
[Sidenote: The development of the Consular question.]
Even in 1892 the Radical Cabinet STEEN did not venture to carry the Consular question to an extreme. They were contented to play with fire. Before the King found an opportunity to give his definite answer to the consular question, the Cabinet retired. The Ministerial strike recently set on the political stage, was even then in the perspective. But the King having vainly tried to form a Conservative Ministry and matters becoming serious, a retreat was sounded, the Storthing itself taking the initiative, this time, strange to say, receiving the hint from Mr MICHELSEN. The requests of the Ministers to resign were withdrawn, and the Consular Question was postponed to a future date. The Norwegian masses were not as yet sufficiently impregnated with the gospel of the dissolution of the Union—and Norway was not yet armed for defence.
The following year the same tale began afresh. The Storthing resolved on having a separate Consular Service, the Ministers sent in their requests to resign, to avoid, as they declared, rousing a constitutional dispute on the countersignature question which might bring about consequences "that scarcely any other political question had aroused in our present constitution". This time the Conservatives stepped into the breach on behalf of the King and the Union. For two years The Cabinet STANG opposed a furious Storthing, while the King was powerless to form a parliamentary Radical Ministry on reasonable terms. This conflict naturally produced intense excitement, and the Radicals, of course, saw in the King's opposition, Sweden's and the King's of Sweden, not the King's of the United Kingdoms fighting a battle against the destruction of the Union. It is in this way that the Consular Question became magnified into a question of National honour. The blow given to their honour by the disloyalty of the Radicals to the Union was entirely ignored. The Consular question became by degrees, the chief National question of the country.
[Sidenote: The position in 1895.]
In the Spring of 1895 the situation in Norway was such that a complete standstill was threatened, and all sorts of extravagant plans were mooted on the Norwegian Radical Side. It was then that in limited Swedish Conservatives circles a plan was said to exist for making Norway come to an agreeable settlement of the Union question, by main force. This is a matter impossible to decide. These reports spread like wildfire, and had the effect of oil upon fire. And now at last Norway begins to think of her defence which of late years she has neglected.
[Sidenote: The Union Committee 1895-1908.]
The Norwegians meanwhile gave in as Norway was not ready. The Storthing in Norway also consented to what Sweden had all along endeavoured to obtain, viz. a general settlement. The Union Committee 1895-1898 effected a couple of year's truce; any real results were not to be expected. The Norwegian Radicals had other plans than a reasonable settlement of the Union question; its representatives in the Committee were bound by their party programme, and insisted on having their own Minister for Foreign affairs. On the other side, the two representatives of the Swedish Conservatives maintained the demand for a Union Parliament which the Norwegians in the previous Union Committee had refused. The Swedish and Norwegian majorities were very nearly balanced. They were united in the opinion that the Union necessarily demanded a joint Minister for Foreign affairs, but differed in everything else on several points. For instance, the Norwegian majority, characteristically would not agree to limit the possibility for Norway (on the grounds of paragraph 25 in the Constitution) of withdrawing of her own accord, a greater or smaller portion of Norwegian troops from the defending forces of the Union[18:1]. In the Consular question there were also differences. The Swedish members were unanimous in insisting on a joint Consular Service for both Kingdoms. The Norwegian majority preferred, from all points of view, a joint Consular Service to a separate one for each Kingdom, and strongly emphasized the point that in all circumstances the consuls ought to be personally and immediately under the control of the Minister for Foreign affairs, as the limits in the sphere of operations between the Consuls and the Diplomatic Officials became more and more indefined. But with evident respect to the opposing Norwegian opinions, it tried to regulate the Consular Service, by joint terminable laws, nevertheless, so worded, that not till the lapse of 15 years, the Kingdom that so desired, might have the right to dissolve the joint Consular Service[18:2].
[Sidenote: Norway prepares again to the Consular Question.]
The Union Committee having failed, the Norwegian Radicals prepared for another attack on the old lines. By passing the Flag Bill, they prepared to renew negotiations on the Consular Question, while, at the same time, they were busily engaged in strengthening their defence and raising on the boundaries rumoured fortresses against Sweden. The Under Secretary of State, Dr. SIGURD IBSEN, instituted an inquiry as to the feasibility of having a separate Consular Service in conjunction with the existing Foreign administration. It was on this point that the Minister for Foreign affairs, for the time being, Mr. LAGERHEIM, made a proposal, the consequences of which brought about the present crisis.
[8:1] Compare NANSEN (page 48 and following).
[9:1] The Norwegians, as aforesaid, have generally looked upon Sweden's maintaining its conception of the Union law as something very criminal; this has been Norway's right alone.
[9:2] Compare NANSEN (page 54). "The change in the Swedish Constitution in 1885 has therefore become the principal cause of the last twenty years' strife in the union."
[10:1] On the Norwegian side, it has been said, that Sweden in 1885 adopted the same method, when, by changing the Swedish Constitution by themselves, they reorganized the Council for Foreign affairs. It must, however, be observed, that, in this, Sweden is supported by its own right, as acknowledged by the foremost Norwegian writers on state law and Norwegian Conservatives, to undertake the management of foreign policy. This legal stand-point had been adopted in 1835, when a resolution was passed in the Swedish Cabinet to admit the Norwegian Minister of State to the Ministeral Council. The Norwegian claim to participate in the revision of the Swedish Constitution is, however, unwarrantable, as Norway, in the indisputably unionistic Stadtholder question in 1860 maintained that Sweden was not warranted in interfering when revisions or changes were made in the Norwegian Constitution.
[11:1] Compare NANSEN (page 68 and following).
[12:1] It is a singular coincidence, that Norway in these days, when it has brought the Consular question to a climax, has begun to carry out a general rise in the Fiscal rates; the mercantile interests of "the land of Free Trade" Norway evidently do not lie so very deep after all.
[14:1] The question as to when a matter shall be discussed in a Joint Cabinet or not, has not been the smallest of the stumbling blocks in the thorny path of the Union negotiations. In Norway, to quote Mr HAGERUP, there has been quite a "sickly" fear of having matters settled there. On the Norwegian Left Side they have defended the opinion, that only those matters which, being expressly mentioned in the Act of Union, as being distinctively Union-matters ought to be brought there. In Sweden it has been held, that the Act of Union has no power to give an exhaustive account as to what matters belong to the Union and which do not. Whether it can be considered a matter which concerns both the Kingdoms depends entirely on the exact nature of the matter itself. This latter conception has been adopted of old.
[15:1] Compare No. I Secs. 5, 15, 30, 31.
[18:1] The Swedish majority had contemplated a provision in the Act of Union, wherevy it became incumbent for both Kingdoms to place a fixed minimum of fighting forces to the disposition of the Union.
[18:2] NANSEN says (page 71) "Divisions arose partly over the resistance from the Swedish side to the unanimous demand of the Norwegian delegates for a separate Consular Service." This is, as plainly apparent, an extremely modified version of the truth.
[Sidenote: His Excellency Mr. Lagerheim's Proposal.]
His Excellency Mr. LAGERHEIM'S proposal implied an attempt to settle the Consular Question itself, by retaining the existing Foreign Administration and dissolving the joint Consular Service. By doing this, he plainly foresaw that the Consular Question would inevitably be raised afresh on the part of Norway. It was necessary therefore to lead the work of reform in the quiet paths of Union negotiations, in order to prevent the old attempts on Norway's side "to take matters into her own hands", to the detriment of the harmony in the Union. If results in that way could be gained, negotiative operations might win more confidence from distrustful Norwegian politicians. The Swedish government seems also to have taken into account the contingency that, by making this offer, they would get Norway to meet them half way, and agree sooner or later to a definite solution of the Union conflict, by a reorganisation, on the grounds of having a joint Minister for Foreign affairs.
In one respect, it was undeniably a good opportunity for such an attempt. The violent Russianizing of Finland, and the undefined plots it concealed, could not fail to open the eyes of many in Norway. Even Norwegian Radicals were obliged to acknowledge that the integrity of the Kingdoms of Scandinavia formed a necessary guarantee for their freedom and independence[19:1]. It was certainly on that account that their courage was not so fully shared by all, when the Norwegian Radicals prepared to renew their old efforts to break the Union. An honourable compromise with Sweden, on that occasion, would probably have been acceptable.
But Mr LAGERHEIM'S experiment had, on all hands, almost insurmountable difficulties through which to pilot its way.
[Sidenote: The difficulties attending the satisfactory settlement of the Consular Question.]
In Sweden it had always been feared that separate Consuls for Norway without the reorganization of the Foreign administration, would act as a wedge to rupture the Union, especially as leading Norwegian politicians took no pains to hide their ulterior motives. Therefore, the Swedish Diet in 1893 expressed a decided wish that the Consular question should not be discussed except in connection with the question of Foreign administration, and from this decision the Swedish Diet has not since deviated in any way.
In order, therefore, that there might be some prospect of the Swedish government gaining the approval of the Swedish Diet, of the result of the negotiations, it was necessary that it contained safe guarantees that the Consular reform would not react to the advantage of a Union programme to which Sweden could never agree: i. e. a purely personal Union.
But on the other hand, it was expected that the efforts to get these guarantees fixed on a firm basis would meet with opposition from the Norwegian side. The old Norwegian traditions of the Radical party were as deeply rooted as ever in the political life of Norway. It was hard for the Norwegian Radicals to lose sight of the original political aims in carrying out the reform of the Consular service. D:r IBSEN'S aforesaid inquiry plainly hinted that Norwegian opposition would be raised against the Swedish Minister for Foreign affairs having direct control over the Norwegian Consuls, a stipulation that was absolutely necessary both from a Swedish and a Union point of view. And Norwegian policy had generally with its sickly distrust and susceptibility an instinctive disinclination to bind Norway to anything referring to the burning question of the day. "As to one's rights, no one negotiates". This has become well nigh the axiom for Norwegian politics. And Norway now considers she has a right to one and all of her demands.—
[Sidenote: The Consular Committee of 1902.]
In a joint Cabinet Council held on January 21et 1902, it was resolved to convene a Union Consular Committee consisting of two Swedish and two Norwegian authorities,[21:1] who were to institute an examination as to how far a new arrangement with separate Consuls for each of the United Kingdoms would practically work under the administration of the present joint diplomatic representatives.
The Committee accepted its task in a purely administrative spirit. It declared distinctly that it considered it was not compulsory for them to give an opinion as to the suitability or desirability[21:2] of the arrangement, or of the political importance that might be assigned to the same. This limitation of the duty of the Committee is of importance in order to understand the terms of its conclusions; it was meant simply to describe the effect of the aforesaid arrangement under certain circumstances and nothing more.
The Committee gave two alternatives; Norway should either have its own consuls, subordinate, to a certain extent, to the Minister of Foreign affairs, or a separate Consular Service, in which case, the consuls would be entirely under Norwegian authority. As to the first of these alternatives, the Norwegian members explain, that whichever way we look at the arrangement, it would be at the outset in conflict with the spirit of the Norwegian Constitution; a corps acting for the most part under authority out of Norway, would, from an administrative point of view, be an "anomaly". The Swedish members evidently ought not to confute the Norwegian interpretation of the Constitution; they do not approve of it, nor do they agree to it, though they declare that they see plainly the advantages to be obtained, from an disciplinary point of view, by continuing to allow the separate consuls to act under the administration of the Minister for Foreign affairs.
The formal way in which the Committee acted naturally brought about very imperfect results. The logical consequences of the issue being, for instance, that the Minister for Foreign affairs was debarred from giving instructions directly to the different consuls; his 'wishes' were first to be communicated to the Norwegian Consular administration, on whom rested the decision as to whether or not, the wishes of the Minister of Foreign affairs should be complied with(!). And the Minister of Foreign affairs, would not, of course, have any power to interfere disciplinary when a consul compromised the relations of the United Kingdoms with Foreign powers etc. etc. The Swedish members express their extreme doubts on the critical points all through, and point out the necessity of an extremely amicable co-operation between the Minister for Foreign affairs and the Norwegian Consular Service, as the only guarantee against the total disorganization of the administration for Foreign affairs; the Norwegians tried to soothe their doubts by declaring that the Norwegian Consular Service would "duly value the importance of a loyal co-operation."
It was evident that these statements from the Swedish side could not be considered as contributing to the solution of the problem, so much the more so, as the Swedish members had strong doubts. Neither could any reference to them be made on Norway's part without further notice, the Committee itself having shirked the most salient points, namely those of a practical and political nature. And yet in Norway the committee's conclusions were considered to be an acknowledged method from the Swedish side for the solution of the question[22:1].
[Sidenote: Negotiations 1902-1903 between Swedish and Norwegian delegates.]
Mr. BOSTROeM became Prime Minister in the summer of 1902, and in the autumn of that year, negotiations on the Consular question were commenced between the delegates of the Swedish and Norwegian Cabinets. The conclusions of the Consular Committee were then preliminarily examined and discussed. In February and March the negotiations were continued in Christiania, and touched especially upon the political side of the matter, particularly the nature and binding power of an eventual agreement. In the middle of March negotiations were abruptly broken off on the grounds of divergencies of opinion, but were resumed again by the Norwegian side, the result being published on March 24th in the well known so-called Communique[23:1].
[Sidenote: The Communique.]
This much-dismissed Act must be regarded as a summary compendium of the preliminary results of the negotiations in the Consular question, though it must be especially observed that it is not issued by the governments themselves[23:2], but only by different members in each, and that the Swedish members, at any rate, had no official authority in the matter.
Its contents inform us that the Swedish negotiators prefer to have the Consular question solved in conjunction with the entire question of Foreign administration, in other words, they plainly offered a general agreement to separate Consular services under a joint Minister of Foreign affairs, but that the Norwegian negotiators refused this offer. On the Norwegian Radical Side it was considered that the time was not yet ripe for such a solution, and a resolution in the Storthing affirmed this in January 1903, with the consent of the government; the Radicals were evidently determined not to give up their claim—so unreasonable from a Union point of view—to a separate Minister for Foreign affairs.
With respect to the Consular Question, the Swedish negotiators declare that a dissolution of the joint Consular Office, appears to them, in itself, undesirable, but as an opposite opinion has long been prevalent in Norway, and as during the preliminary negotiations, it was shown to be "not impossible" that under certain circumstances a system with different Consuls for each Kingdom could be established, in order to obtain the most important advantage of the political agreement between the two countries, they have found it expedient to advise a settlement of the question on the following basis:
1. Separate Consular Services for Sweden and for Norway shall be established. The Consuls of each kingdom shall be subordinate to the authority of their own country which the latter shall have to determine.
2. The relations of the separate Consuls to the Minister for Foreign Affairs and to the Embassies shall be regulated by laws of the same wording which cannot be altered nor abolished without the consent of the authorities of both Kingdoms.
It is furthermore stipulated that the Status quo with reference to the position of the Minister for Foreign affairs and the Ambassadors should remain intact. Each Kingdom is to have its right to decide on the establishment of its own Consular service; the identical laws are only to regulate the relations between the Consuls on the one side, and the Minister for Foreign affairs and diplomatic representatives on the other. The laws are especially designed to give a guarantee that the consuls do not outstep the boundaries of their occupation and at the same time secure the necessary cooperation between the Foreign Administration and the Consular Services of the two Kingdoms[24:1].
When the Communique was issued, it was received with very great diversity of feelings on both sides of the State boundaries. The lively discussions which immediately sprung up concerning the actual contents of the agreement, on which considerable divergence of opinion was held, contributed in no small degree to the former. The debates were especially concentrated on the contents of what was called the identical laws, and as the different conceptions on this subject were without doubt of great importance in the final issue of the negotiations, it is as well to give some enlightenment on the point.
In the first part of the Communique, which decribes the offer of the Swedish negotiators, it is mentioned, as aforesaid, that the relations of the Separate Consuls to the Minister for Foreign affairs and Diplomatic representatives should be regulated by identical laws, which could not be altered or abolished without the consent of the Government powers of both Kingdoms. In the mutual resolution reference is made to laws "which cannot be altered by one of the parties", the word 'abolish' does not occur. This already caused astonishment. It was asked if this omission had any important significance. It was observed that Mr BOSTROeM, in the Swedish Diet, made use of the first form of expression, Mr BLEHR in the Norwegian Diet of the second.[25:1] In reality, the difference depended on some oversight in the final revision which was made in Christiania under great excitement in political circles there; this seems to have given a prominent place to the preliminary solution, before the full contents were grasped. Mr HAGERUP acknowledged later that the expressions in reality meant the same, as the conception of the word 'alter', must necessarily include the conception of the word 'abolish'. It was afterwards frequently proposed in debates, that the intended laws should be terminable only by mutual agreement, and this question has been significant only through the connection which may be found to exist between it and the chief point of this discussion itself, as to the extent to which the laws were to be changeable.
The divergencies referred especially to the conception of Union Law by the Norwegian Radicals, according to which Norway had the right to have her own Minister for Foreign affairs, and consequently was entitled to appoint one without agreeing with Sweden. As the proposed laws were based upon the presupposition that the Swedish Minister for Foreign affairs would continue the administration of the Foreign affairs of the Union, the question now arose as to whether a Norwegian Minister of Foreign affairs could be appointed unless Sweden consented to the suspension of the Consular Laws, or whether the Consular Laws would become extinct of themselves, if Norway made use of her assumed rights in the matter.
In other words, was it the intention of the Communique to force Norway to a solution of the question of the foreign administration only through negotiations with Sweden, or had the Norwegian Radicals the liberty to continue to urge Norway to take matters into her own hands?
In Norway much anxiety was expressed lest the negotiations should prove too binding,—Norwegian politicians hate, as previously mentioned, to be bound in any way—His Excellency BLEHR meanwhile imagined that he might be able to explain in the Storthing, in May 1903, that the laws will not include any restrictions for either of the two Kingdoms, in the matter of their authority, in future, to decide on questions relating to the regulation of foreign administration; or be reckoned as a proof that they had confirmed the existing terms, or bound themselves to carry them out. This explanation produced a calming effect, and it was confirmed in the following debate with satisfaction that the character of these laws could not be referred to, as showing, that Norway was bound in any way whatever. This interpretation was afterwards approved of by Mr HAGERUP, and may be said to form the Norwegian official standpoint in all negotiations.
Now, was this also the Swedish interpretation of the Communique? It is evident that the Swedish standpoint in this respect must be of especial importance, considering it plainly referred to a guarantee demanded by Sweden[26:1], touching the nature of which the Swedish interpretation of the Communique must, of necessity, in an especial degree be one of authority.
On the part of the Swedish government, no opinion on the question has yet been published. Buth it may nevertheless, with great certainty, be assumed that the Swedish negotiators for the identical laws really, among other matters, intended to bind Norway not to take the question of foreign administration "into her own hands." The great fear of such a contingency, shown by the Norwegian Radicals, is sufficient proof of this, for, as a rule, Norwegian politicians keep themselves pretty well informed on matters of negotiation, even when they are of a more confidential nature. Also, more or less direct references have been made by the Norwegian government, that the interpretation of the Communique by the Swedish government differed from its own[27:1]. This supposition is vindicated by the political situation throughout. It is plain that to the Swedish government the compensation demanded for concessions in the Consular question, was the guarantee that the consequences of having a Norwegian Consular Service would not pave the way for a Norwegian Foreign Office. It was therefore first necessary to demand of Norway implicit loyalty with reference to the future solving of the Foreign Minister question. The Swedish delegates have therefore evidently tried to exact from Norway, as an expression of implicit loyalty, a contract not to seek to alter the Status quo with respect to the Foreign administration[27:2], without an agreement with Sweden.
How is it possible then, that the Norwegian government in the Storthing could interpret the Communique as it did?
As long as the details in the protocol of negotiations are not known, it is impossible to make any definite assertions.
The Norwegian government may possibly have felt assured that the Communique did not intend a direct refusal to Norway of its assumed legal right to its own Minister for Foreign affairs—that demand could scarcely be expected to emanate from Sweden—and passed over the Swedish delegates' plain intention to bind Norway to the execution of that right. But as this question has manifestly been an object of protracted debates, the Norwegian government cannot possibly have remained in ignorance of the Swedish delegates' intentions with regard to the wording of the Communique on that point, and the Norwegian governments attitude in the matter, is, to say the least, rather strange, especially in the light of the apparently somewhat undiplomatic War Minister STANG'S open declaration in the Storthing, that according to his idea of the matter, the decisions in respect to the identical laws were scarcely in accordance with Mr BLEHR'S interpretation of the Communique.
Now, however matters may have been in detail, one indisputable fact remains clear, that the guarantee the Swedish delegates sought to effect by means of the identical laws, has been refused on the grounds of the Norwegian interpretation of the Communique. This must be kept strictly in view, if any correct idea of the ensuing development of events is to be obtained.
[19:1] It is undoubtedly Russia's proceedings in Finland which have especially influenced the recent unionist-political views of BJOeRNSON.
[21:1] The most effective power in the Committee was D:r SIGURD IBSEN, who is credited with having drawn up the drafts of the result of the Committee's debates. The rest of the members were the Swedish Ambassador BILDT at the Court of St James, the Consul General AMEEN in Barcelona, and the Consul General CHRISTOPHERSEN in Antwerp.
[21:2] The Swedish members of the Committee indicate, incidentally, that they do not consider it to be altogether desirable.
[22:1] NANSEN evidently looks upon the matter in this light (page 64): "No change in the Consular regulations was made, and it therefore, follows that even the Swedish Commissioners did not think it incompatible with the terms of the Union, for Norway to have separate Consuls". And, of course, he mentions, "the unanimous conclusion of the committee of experts from both countries" (p. 72).
[23:1] N:o 3.
[23:2] The Swedish members were, the Premier, BOSTROeM, the Minister for Foreign Affairs Mr. LAGERHEIM, and State Secretary HUSBERG. The Norwegian members were, Prime Ministers BLEHR and QVAM, and State Secretaries KNUDSEN and IBSEN
[24:1] N:o 3 These latter decisions in the Communique, which are conclusive in explaining the later standpoint taken by the Swedish government, are, of course, omitted by NANSEN.
[25:1] The same difference also occurs in the drafts of laws which have been proposed at more recent dates.
[26:1] It is manifest that it is on the part of Sweden that the idea of identical laws has arisen. In Norway they afterwards complained, especially the Radicals, of that "Massive instrument."
[27:1] In the debate in the Storthing on April 27:th 1904 Mr CARL BERNER said he had heard that Mr BLEHR'S explanation in the Storthing respecting; the Communique before its publication was made known to the Swedish government: that the latter, neither previously, nor later on, had made any objections to it. To this State Secretary MICHELSEN sharply replied, that "Mr BLEHR'S explanation was only the explanation of the Norwegian government on the subject of the Communique."
[27:2] Further affirmation is given by Mr IBSEN'S declaration in the Storthing, that the negotiations fell through in consequence of Mr BOSTROeM'S opposition to the request of the Norwegian delegates that in the Communique it should be mentioned that the identical laws were to be valid only "so long as the present system of foreign administration existed." When, finally, the Norwegians consented to omit this condition, it could only have been their intention that the laws should only be valid until by mutual consent they were rescinded. Other explanations in the Storthing of the divergencies of opinions on this point are to all intents unacceptable.
[Sidenote: The reception of the Communique in Sweden and Norway.]
Even without taking into consideration the indistinctness that was supposed to characterise the Communique, its general contents roused no unanimous approbation. In the Swedish Diet in May 1903, during a debate, serious doubts were rife, and it was emphatically declared that the Consular Question must be solved simultaneously with the Foreign Minister Question as resolved by the Diet in 1893. The Second Chamber (lower Home) was more leniently inclined towards the negotiations, but it nevertheless referred to the resolution of 1893.
Nor did it get a promising reception in Norway at first. It was known there that one of the chief stipulations of the negotiations had been the cessation of the agitation for a separate Minister of Foreign affairs. Meanwhile after the publication of the Communique, the Norwegian Radicals immediately expressed their opinions at their large meeting by again solemnly entering this old claim on their party programme.
However when the agitation for a new election for the Storthing was started later on in the year, there was a strong inclination towards negotiating, and even BJOeRNSON, among others, warmly advocated the cause of the negotiation programme, and that too, in opposition to the Radical Minister BLEHR, who, though having introduced the negotiations, was suspected of being but a lukewarm partisan to the cause. The party for negotiation conquered, and was in the majority in the Storthing, though not in great numbers. The issue could scarcely be attributed to the Swedish proposal alone, but also in no slight degree to the miserable, impoverished condition to which the country had been brought by the old Radical government. Mr BLEHR resigned in the autumn 1903, after the elections. Professor HAGERUP, the leader of the Conservatives, then became Prime Minister at Christiania in companionship with D:r IBSEN as Prime Minister at Stockholm. The old Radical party retired from the leadership, but exercised, by its criticising, suspicious attitude, a powerful influence on the progress of the negotiations, and that too, in no favourable direction.
[Sidenote: Negotiations on the basis of the Communique.]
In a joint Council held on 11th Dec. 1903, the Cabinets of both Kingdoms were commissioned to resume negotiations on the Consular question, on the basis of the Communique. They were carried on slowly during the Spring 1904, but it was not till May that the first official break in the proceedings was made by Mr. HAGERUP presenting to the Swedish government the Norwegian gouvernment proposal for identical laws.
[Sidenote: The problem of the relations of the Minister of Foreign affairs to the Consular service.]
It was clear that the chief point of the question should concern the real authority to be exercised by the Minister for Foreign affairs over the Consuls in diplomatic matters. It must necessarily be the chief interest of the Swedish government to insure a guarantee for this. It was partly a purely practical matter, that the Minister for Foreign affairs, who was responsible for the relations of both Kingdoms to Foreign powers, should be able to exercise an efficient control over all matters in any way connected with the Diplomatic service. And it was also necessary to hinder the Norwegian Consular service, in its progressive development, from acting in the direction of a division of the Foreign administration within the Union.
The practical necessity of strict co-operation between the Foreign Service and the Consular Service had previously been acknowledged in Norway on certain sides. It may thus be of interest to recall the strong efforts that were made by the Norwegian majority in the latest Union Committee, to emphasize the importance of having the consuls under the direct control of the Minister for Foreign affairs and Envoys in all matters which are likely to assume a diplomatic character. The same conclusions may also be drawn from the plan of some Norwegians to solve the Consular question, by arranging for the separation of the mercantile part of the joint Consular service, while the diplomatic part remained intact[30:1].
But the problem now presented a somewhat different aspect from the one it had for the Norwegian Majority of the last Union Committee, for it had postulated a Union Minister of Foreign affairs. And, undoubtedly, a deeper penetration into questions it included, had made clearly manifest the impossibility of drawing a distinct line between the diplomatic and mercantile functions of the Consuls. The question, for instance, now arose, as to whether a Norwegian civil official, in certain cases, would be subordinate to a Swedish Minister. In the face of this problem, the Norwegians on their part lost sight of the real points at issue in a most remarkable way. In the Consular Committee's deliberations, Norwegian opinion on the question of subordination, that it would be an "anomaly", in conflict with the spirit of the Norwegian Constitution etc. etc. made it evident that the Swedish claim would come into collision, on the part of Norway, with the formal respect to which the abstract demand of State Sovereignty, viewed logically, is entitled.
From this conflict, the Swedish government had no duty, nor even the right to withdraw without protest. Facts are of more importance than mere forms. The evasive talk of the "spirit" of constitutional law, and the administrative anomalies could not be decisive. Many events both in public annals and administrative legislature are very illogical, and very great anomalies. The main fact which the Swedish government had to hold in view, was this, that the responsibility of the Swedish Minister of Foreign affairs, for the joint Foreign policy of the two Kingdoms, must presuppose a fully effective administration of the same in all its branches.
[Sidenote: The Norwegian proposal. May 1904.]
The Norwegian proposal of the 28th May 1904 showed that the views of the Swedish governement could not entirely be ignored. According to this proposal[31:1] the Consular administration in Christiania should regularly inform the Minister of Foreign affairs of nominations, orders issued etc., etc. which it would be of importance for him to know.
Furthermore, when an affair seemed likely to assume a Diplomatic character and required immediate treatment, the Consul should send the report directly to the Minister for Foreign affairs, and the latter, under similar conditions, would give direct instructions to the Consul. Ambassadors were also empowered to give orders to the Consuls, but on no account to exceed the instructions given by the Norwegian Authorities.
This was undoubtedly something, but manifestly not much. The connection between the Diplomatic Service and the Norwegian Consular administration was very unsatisfactorily provided for. There was no guarantee whatever that the orders of the Norwegian Consular administration would not come into conflict with those of the Minister for Foreign affairs, a deficiency so much the more serious as the Act Sec. 1—c allowed the Norwegian Consular administration rather extensive powers of more or less diplomatic significance, for instance, that of giving instructions to Consuls respecting the regulations of International Law.
Furthermore it was deficient of any provisions that would entitle the Minister of Foreign affairs and the Ambassadors to the authority to secure a guarantee, by strict control, that the Consuls would not compromise the Foreign administration, and, in fact, there was good cause for declaring from the Swedish side, "that the proposition includes scarcely any rules calculated to secure the guarantee referred to in the Communique, that the Consuls would not exceed the proper limits of their office", and was therefore in that respect not in accordance with the acknowledged principles of the Communique.
[Sidenote: Mr Bostrom's Conditions.]
From what has been already stated, it seems that in the Swedish Cabinet there were divided opinions. But the Government was unanimous in not accepting the Norwegian proposal, and even in the summer of 1904 it must have been evident to the Norwegian Council, that the Swedish Cabinet cil would not in any essentials comply with the Norwegian proposal. But the question was not thoroughly discussed by the Swedish Cabinet in pleno, till the autumn.
During the autumn Mr LAGERHEIM resigned on the grounds of difference of opinion with the Prime Minister, though the real cause of his resignation was said to have no direct connection with the Union negotiations. In November His Excellency Mr BOSTROeM went to Christiania and presented his conditions, as to which the Swedish Cabinet had declared its approval if the Norwegian government would approve of them[33:1]. These conditions stipulated among other matters, that no orders should be issued from the Consular Office that would come into conflict with the commands of the Minister of Foreign affairs; that, if a Consul acted in any way likely to disturb the relations between the United Kingdoms and the Foreign Powers, the Minister of Foreign affairs could send in an appeal to the King, recommending his dismissal; that the Ambassadors, in certain cases, should also be empowered to suspend the Consul from his Office[33:2].
After personal consultations in Christiania His Excellency Mr HAGERUP made a written statement of his objections.
[Sidenote: Mr Hagerups Reply.]
In this, and the ensuing interpolations on the Norwegian side, the Norwegian system of conducting negotiations appears in its typical manner. Of real facts and reasons there is not a trace. For instance, though the Norwegian majority itself, in the last Union Committee, emphasized the danger of separating the Consular Service from the Diplomatic administration, Mr HAGERUP does not make the slightest acknowledgement that interminable practical difficulties would be the results of acceding to the Norwegian proposition. Neither is there a single proposal, which, from a Norwegian point of view, would be acceptable, to make decisions that might in any possible degree remedy the deficiences. On the contrary, Mr HAGERUP mentions that such decisions would be calculated to stamp Norway as a dependency, according to international and common law principles, and declared that from a national point of view, it indicates a very great retrogression on the present arrangement of the Consular Service[34:1]. In this, he forgets that Mr BOSTROeM'S conditions refer to exceptional decisions and do not touch the Norwegian Consul's normal position as being a Norwegian civil Official, and he omits to observe that the interference of the Diplomatic Officials with Consular affairs, as proposed by Mr BOSTROeM, would very seldom occur.
[Sidenote: The Swedish Government's proposal.]
It is, meanwhile, easy to understand that Mr BOSTROeM'S demand, that the King, on the Swedish Minister's representations, should be empowered to dismiss a Norwegian civil official, would deeply injure the Norwegian susceptibilities, and that it was therefore quite possible to be blind to the fact that the Swedish Minister was also responsible for Norway's Foreign politics. When therefore His Excellency Mr HAGERUP went to Stockholm for further discussions, all the rest of the Swedish Ministers, as will be seen, were ready to present a Swedish proposal[34:2] for identical laws modified especially to meet the sensitive point.
The demand that the Consular Office should not issue orders in conflict with those given by the Minister of Foreign affairs, remained, but it naturally did not necessarily imply a formal subordination, as the Minister could not give orders directly to the Consular Office. Further, the decision remained, that the Ambassadors could, on especial occasions, suspend the Consuls from their office, but this decision need not necessarily offend the Norwegian susceptibility, as the Ambassadors, though more directly under the influence of the Minister for Foreign affairs, are nevertheless, according to the Norwegian legal point of view, not only Swedish Officials, but Officials of the Union[35:1]. On the other hand, the form for the interference of the Minister for Foreign affairs with the Consuls was modified in a way which showed great consideration for Norway; thus when a Consul had compromised the United Kingdoms, the Minister of Foreign affairs was to bring the matter before the joint or the Ministerial Council, after which it was laid before the King for decision at a State Council especially dealing with the affairs of that State.
[Sidenote: The Norwegian government's Ultimatum.]
What reply now does the Norwegian government give to these apparently perfectly fair and moderate demands?[35:2]
It declares that it "stands to reason" that the Norwegian Consular Office would not issue orders in conflict with those of the Minister for Foreign affairs, and remarks that it is not very appropriate in a form of law, to presuppose want of loyalty in a Public Office[35:3]. If the Swedish proposals had been accepted, the Norwegian Consular service would have been very largely placed under the control of the Foreign Minister, who is constitutionally a Swedish Minister. It claims for other more important points the unsuitability of a "hierarchal" relation between Swedish and Norwegian officials, and several times cites the decisions of the Consular Committee, the one-sided formal views of which the Norwegian government itself had abandoned. But when the Norwegian government intends offering other guarantees of cooperation between the Minister for Foreign affairs and the Norwegian Consular Office, and that the Consuls shall not exceed the limits of their duties, it has only to refer to the loyalty of the Norwegian Consular Office, and its interest in keeping Norway from being compromised abroad, guarantees, which, of course, have their significance, when reliable, but manifestly are not of the legislative binding nature intended by the Communique. Finally the Norwegian government declares these and sundry other Swedish conditions unacceptable, and adds, that "if they should be adhered to further discussion the Swedish draft about would be useless"[36:1]. Really a formal ultimatum!
[Sidenote: The Swedish government's reply.]
Before the Swedish government replied to the Norwegian government's Ultimatum, the critical attitude of the Consular negotiations became the subject of debate in the Lower Chamber of the Swedish Diet, and from the liberal party's side, a strong appeal was made to the government to try, if possible, to avoid any interruption of the negotiations. The reply of the Swedish Cabinet is dated Jan. 30th 1905[36:2]. Its tone is one af decision tempered with undoubted moderation and good-will. The Cabinet firmly maintains the real grounds of the disputed claims. It especially emphasizes the importance of the Minister for Foreign affairs having the power in exceptional cases to interfere in Consular matters, as the limits between the Diplomatic and Consular operations are exceedingly indistinct and, on both sides, there is a natural tendency to extend operations into departments that had previously been considered as belonging to the other party. The reference, made by the Norwegian Cabinet, to the Consular Committee's resolution that the Norwegian Consuls should be entirely under the control of Norwegian authority, was met by the Norwegian Cabinet's own admissions, that the Minister for Foreign affairs should be authorised to give the separate Consuls instructions, and, herewith the claim that, in the Diplomatic branch of affairs, the Norwegian Consuls should be solely under the control of Norwegian authority may be considered void. Furthermore it points out the unsatisfactory attitude of the Norwegian proposal with reference to the guarantees presupposed by the Communique that the Consuls shall not exceed the proper limits of their duty, and the objection made only on Norway's side, that the best guarantee would be the control exercised by the Norwegian Consular Office, is met on the grounds that a guarantee of that kind was not intended in the Communique, as it had nothing to do with the internal relations between Norwegian Consuls and the Norwegian Consular Office.