Foreign Policy in a Time of Change - Challenges for Norway and the EU

Støre based his address at the following topics: 

Introduction

  • Baroness Ashton – welcome to Oslo. Honoured to have you here. Both arriving from Svalbard. Together we have seen this year’s first rays of sunlight shining on the Svalbard community. The return of the sun illustrates the hope and ambitions Norway has for this region in the future.
  • European countries and the EU are and will remain our most important foreign policy partners. We share common values and ideas.
  • It is in Norway’s interest that we see a strong Europe on the international stage. Stand up for human rights, the fight against climate change, the rule of law, welfare state.

Two dimensions for my intervention: 1st Domestic developments: 

  • Norway is EU’s fifth largest trading partner – larger than both India and Japan. EEA: Norway’s most important market accounting for ¾ of our foreign trade. Norway dependent on economic stability in Europe.
  • Foreign policy about pursuing interests, but it is also about values. Norway shares with the EU 27 values like universal human rights, rule of law and welfare state and we are willing to stand up for it. We must uphold this strong and important common European voice in foreign policy.
  • Global shift in power. The West is no longer in majority. When Trygve Lie was appointed the first Secretary General of the United Nations the UN had 50 states. Today people from 148 states live in Groruddalen in Oslo, where Trygve Lie grew up. 

2nd: Strategic partners:

  • The EU and Norway complement each other.
  • We can strategically make a difference together.
  • The Arctic Council as an example. Norway supports EU candidacy to become a permanent observer to the Council.
  • We share views on most issues. 5 examples:
  1. North Africa/the Arab uprisings: Our values are a beacon of light for the Arab peoples in their efforts to free themselves from oppression and dictatorship. The Arab spring will last a generation. Capacity building. Myanmar. Reforms. 
  2. Market economy and human rights   
  3. Palestinian authority: Now above level to run a state. Institution building. European engagement been important. Role of the donor support group to the Palestinian Territory (AHLC). EU hosts next meeting in Brussels. Norway (foreign minister Støre) chairs AHLC.
  4. WTO: We have our differences in agricultural policies for instance. But those differences smaller are than the differences that remain among other member countries.
  5. The Arctic/High North: Developments must be based on knowledge. The Arctic is vulnerable. New interest driven by climate change, resources and new transport routes. Legal framework in place (UNCLOS). Now, we must develop the policies. Would be wrong not to engage Europe/EU in this.          

Financial crisis leading to less Europe on the global stage? 

  • I see two challenges:
  1. The 27 member countries v.s. the EU. Norway must find its way.
  2. All energy spent to and in Brussels. Must see Brussels around the world: Voice on human rights, rule of law, market economy and welfare states. The EU’s High Representative new tool to help in this effort.   
  • Our concern, albeit not necessarily our expectation, is that this could weaken the EU’s voice and authority in important international questions.

Conclusion

  • Dear Cathy: My Government has the greatest respect for you and your staff, and for the way you are fulfilling your duties in this time of change for the EU and the world.
  • Europe is being challenged from outside at the same time as the situation on the inside could not be more demanding.
  • Appreciate our talks and your acknowledgement of Norway’s added value in international diplomacy.
 

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