Oslo, 1 June 2012:
(Norway and the United States, the Arctic, NATO)
I’ll just make a few remarks on our talks. We have a broad agenda which is, if I may say, free of issues between Norway and the United States, but they are filled with issues that concern Norway and the United States, and the issues where I would like to compliment the Secretary for having been a Secretary who’s looking for complementarity with allies and partners.
And in area after area – and you just witnessed one downstairs on global health – we bring together our comparative advantage and experiences to try to maximize political efforts for change.
This morning we spent time on issues in the Arctic, which we certainly will follow up when we get to the Arctic. We touched upon climate change mitigation through supporting initiatives that actually bring difference. The world failed to get to one all-encompassing global deal on climate change a couple of years ago, but we are making progress on some individual projects such as fighting short-lived pollutants that have a dramatic effect in particular in the Arctic.
We discussed that with the minister of the environment present, preparation for Rio+20, and other similar issues.
We followed up on our NATO meeting in Chicago discussing Afghanistan and our preparation for 2014 and the transition of security responsibility to the Afghan authorities, and not least, how we will stand by Afghanistan beyond 2014, supporting that country hopefully on the road of stability.
We touched upon Myanmar, where both the Secretary and I have visited, and where we are committed to support the forces for change, for democracy, and reform.
We also discussed the drama unfolding in Syria, which is a preoccupation for the international community.
And with the prime minister over lunch, we had a debate about the international financial situation, especially the economic situation in Europe, which is a concern for all of us.
On the Svalbard issue, the Secretary has been there. That’s the northern most part of Norway where you can go, so we will go one step south this time, on the mainland. The Svalbard Treaty is quite a unique treaty, one of the survivors of the First World War Versailles Treaty system. It is – has secured a very stable and predictable and sustainable way of managing the very high north.
On some of these issues, the United States has reserved its views, which is a diplomatic expression for stating its views, taking care of its interests. There is no dispute on this, and I believe that it’s Norway’s responsibility to safeguard its interests.
And as the Secretary said, we both have rights and obligations. And one of Norway’s obligation is to secure law and order in these waters so there can be fishing and other kind of activities which correspond with the fragile environment of the archipelago. We have managed that so far. There are about 40 signatories to the Svalbard Treaty, which grants equal rights to economic operators operating inside the territorial waters and on the islands. And by doing that in a predictable way, we contribute to that stability. That’s why we talk about high north, low tension. And that we secure through predictable and long-term policies.
Tromsø, 2 June 2012:
(Tromsø, the Arctic, the High North)
It’s important for us that our key and leading ally has an updated picture of modern Norway, and that is why we highly appreciate Madam Secretary has included Tromsø, which I nominated the Arctic capital.
Today, we have had, I think, a first-class presentation of modern knowledge about Arctic and polar affairs from the medical research from the Polar Institute from the University of Tromsø. We’ve had a generous presentation from the city leadership, political leadership of the city of Tromsø, and above all, we’ve had a good time. And we had a good time because the atmosphere has been great.
And right now, we will be able to present the Tromso Fram Center, which is a milestone in the high north strategy of the government to build a meeting center of excellence in Tromsø. This center will be complete by 2030. We are going to have researchers operating out of this place. And here goes – will be located in the new building – the permanent secretariat of the Arctic Council, which we both helped vote and decide last year.
So we believe that not only to understand modern Norway and the narrative of what is Norway in the 21st century, but the Arctic is really that initial interconnection. The U.S. is a leading Arctic state, as are the other council states as well, and I think we are discovering that for secretaries and foreign ministers in the decades to come, the Arctic will be key on that agenda.
So I’m very pleased that we’ve had the opportunity to go deep in that. Norway was always a seafaring polar strategic nation for centuries. Now we can do it on the bigger screen (i.e. the Barents Watch project), but it will always depend on the very brave and courageous researchers who go out in the ice.