Ashburton Guardian Magna est Veritas et Prævalebit. SATURDAY, JUNE 10, 1905. THE SCANDINAVIAN CRISIS.
Sweden and Norway, the two countries composing Scandinavia, are now on the verge of revolution and a separation. The disruptive influence emanates from the Norwegians. Under the present system the control of the dual monarchy is exercised from Stockholm, the Swedish capital, and the Norwegians recent this, and distrust everything that comes out of Sweden. Though the two nations are related m origin and language, they differ widely m their political aspirations. The Swedes have long been ruled by a powerful aristocracy, and have contracted the sympathies and ways of men who have lived under an aristocratic regime, while the Norwegians, on the other hand, are a democratic race and possess the virtues of a naturally independent and hard living people. The truth is that Norway has for some time been secretly resolved to obtain her independence, and it is the knowledge of this that has induced the Swedes to give way on almost every point that the Norwegians raised. Nominally the subject of dispute is the administration of the Foreign Office and the Consular Service, but m reality Norway is struggling for freedom. The majority of the members of the Storthing are on the side of the Norwegians, and thia Parliament has now decided that King Oscnr's refusal to either accept the Ministry's resignations or form another Ministry, has constitutionally dissolved the union. It is said that there iB no possibility of Sweden entering on a civil war with her partner, since, whatever success she might meet with m the struggle, she could not fold the Norwegians' country without a permanent and enormous military force, and that would be an impossibility for several reasons. It is, therefore, inevitable that Norway will before long be established as an independent country with a ruler of her own, and when th+t happens, she will become an important factor m European politics, for the reason that she is geographically so close to Russia, who, after the Japanese have capcured Vladivostock, will have no outlets to the sea, and who will then turn back to find aome m Europe. The frontier that separates Norway from Russia is said to be hopelessly indefensible, while a not very large extension of the Russian border line would take m the Norwegian ports of Tromso and Mauomerfest, two outlets which would give Russia free commercial communication with the rest of the world. Within the next half century Russian intrigue, directed to securing a portion of Norwegian territory, may be expected to become a prominent factor m the European political game. It is not likely, of course, that Russia will resort to open violence to acquire what she wants, though, if she chose to do so, it is a question who would be inclined to bear the trouble and expense of stopping her. But when Norway becomes independent of Sweden, there will be many ways m which Russia can set about endeavouring to induce Norway to become portion of the great Russian Empire. Norway is a small country comparatively, and intrinsically she would not count m the world's politics. But her proximity to Russia and her possession of open ports, gives her an importance she would not otherwise possess. The Norwegians are thus by their present dispute m reality preparing a state of affairs that will threaten the peace of Europe at some time within the next half centu ry. What is at the bottom of the dispute is, according to the London " Spectator," merely a struggle for dignity. The Swedes, with the superciliousness of an aristocratic nation, occasionally treat the Norwegians as inferiors, and the democratic and sensitive Norwegians naturally resent this conduct. Matters have now gone so far that Norway will no longer submit to be a partner with an ally who, though politically not superior, claims to be so from a social and moral point of view. The developments now taking place m Northern Europe possess m themselves immense potentialities fc-r influencing the future, and they will be watched with intense interest throughout the civilised world.