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Nykvist acts over Sami reindeer rights

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16:07 CEST+02:00
The long-drawn out dispute over winter grazing grounds for the country's reindeer herds could be resolved before Christmas. That was the belief of the minister for Sami affairs, Ann-Christin Nykvist, as the fourth session of the Sami parliament opened in Östersund.

Arguments over grazing grounds for their reindeer have been the biggest problem facing the Sami people in recent years. Legal costs alone have reached 15m kronor. Access to winter grazing is a basic precondition for reindeer farming, so a solution is urgent.

Bo Dockered has been appointed by the government to conduct negotiations between landowners and Sami groups and Nykvist thinks the prospects are good for reaching a long-term agreement. However, she discounted the possibility that the government would provide money as part of a solution:

"The government must treat everybody equally and can't solve problems involving court costs or the leasing of land or property. But we have a number of ideas about how we can resolve the issue and believe the Sami Fund has a role to play."

Nykvist also announced that negotiations with Norway would be resumed in order to establish a new reindeer grazing convention to replace the one which expired in the spring. The rights of Swedish Samis to graze their reindeer on Norwegian territory have been brushed aside both in the previous convention and in the proposals put forward by Norwegian negotiators.

Nykvist said that Swedish Samis must be granted greater rights to summer grazing in Norwary than allowed for previously.

In the Autumn, the Sami Parliament are to be given increased autonomy in issues concerning the activities of Sami communities and reindeer farming.

After several months of uncertainty, the make up of the new Sami Parliament finally became known. The largest party, the Sami Hunting and Fishing party, was forced into opposition as four other parties succeeded in forming a coalition.

"Of course I'm disappointed. A third of Sami voters are left without the chance to influence the parliament and Sami issues," said Håkan Jonsson, leader of Sami Hunting and Fishing.

The parliament is led by Lars Anders Baer of the Sameland party.

Baer has said that gender equality is a priority for the Sami Parliament and was gladdened that finally, after twelve years, one of the top posts was taken by a woman. Sylvia Simma is the parliament's new speaker.

Photo on previous page: Wolfgang Greiner / imagebank.sweden.se

Sources: Sveriges Radio, SVT

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