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Address at the Norwegian-German Chamber of Commerce

Minister of Foreign Affairs, Anniken Huitfeldt, at the Norwegian-German Chamber of Commerce. Credit:  Anne Gjørtz, MFA
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Anniken Huitfeldt, gives her address at the Norwegian-German Chamber of Commerce. Credit: Anne Gjørtz, MFA

Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren,
Liebe Freunde,
Friends,

Germany is Norway’s most important partner in Europe.

You represent that partnership in all its dimensions – and I am honoured to address you tonight.

***

Energy is the backbone of our economic relationship.

I was reminded of the historic ties between our energy industries two weeks ago. When I visited the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim.

Its precursor, the Norwegian Institute of Technology was established in 1910.

There was no shortage of Norwegian applicants to faculty positions back then. But it will come as no surprise when I tell you that the first professor at the institute was… German.

On January 1st 1909, 30-year-old Adolf Watzinger from Darmstadt was hired as professor of mechanical engineering. He was a pioneer in the field of thermopower. And became a popular figure in Trondheim.

Up to that time, there had been no place to study architecture in Norway. Many architecture students therefore travelled to Germany, and to Berlin and Hannover in particular.

And so, just as professor Watzinger left his mark on a generation of Norwegian engineers… German architecture left its mark on entire blocks in Oslo.

Including some of our most famous buildings, like the Royal Palace, the National Theatre or the Trinity church. This earned Oslo the nickname ‘Little Berlin’.

When a Norwegian architect won the commission to design the University of Oslo, he was instructed to travel to Berlin.

Schinkel, Germany’s leading architecht those days basically remodelled the entire project.

Thus, we can say that a small piece of Berlin’s heart is beating right in the centre of Oslo. 

Think about that next time you stroll down Karl Johans gate – which was, of course, modelled after Berlin’s Unter den Linden.

***

Friends,

At the beginning of the 20th century, German engineers were instrumental in helping us develop Norwegian hydropower.

Today, our energy cooperation takes place against a very different backdrop.

Russia’s brutal attack on Ukraine has led to a security crisis – and to an energy crisis in Europe. 

In response, Norway has done what it can to deliver more gas to Europe.

The increase in 2022 alone is equal to two-thirds of total Norwegian hydropower production. Today, Norwegian gas meets around a third of German consumption needs.

Energy security and increased gas deliveries have been our key focus this past year. But we have not lost sight of the future.

Norway seeks to be Germany’s most important energy partner also in the decades to come.

When Chancellor Scholz and Prime Minister Støre met in Berlin a year ago, they agreed to establish a long-term dialogue in the field of industry and energy.

Our aim is:

  • To create new green industries and jobs – both in Germany and Norway
  • And to be a driving force in the European energy transition - while working to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement.

Our strategic partnership was made even more concrete during Vice Chancellor Habeck’s recent visit to Oslo.

The two joint declarations issued outline the next steps in:

  • hydrogen
  • battery technology
  • offshore wind
  • maritime and green shipping
  • and carbon capture and storage.

The recent agreement between Germany’s RWE and Norway’s Equinor – as well as agreements between other companies – show that the private sector is stepping up.

Leading the way, through industrial partnerships, from coal – via gas – to hydrogen, renewables and carbon management.

We will follow up our energy partnership with Germany with meetings in Berlin in March.

In spring, a Norwegian business delegation will travel to Germany. Many of you will be involved.

I expect our energy partnership to lead to increased activity and innovation in a number of other sectors as well.

***

Ladies and gentlemen,

Germany has been Europe and the EU’s economic and industrial engine for a long time.

A leader in the field of renewable and green energy.

And then – Russia invaded Ukraine. In response to the war, Germany has declared a willingness to play a larger role in the field of security and defence too.

The Zeitenwende is of great strategic importance to Norway, to Europe and to NATO.

As a close ally, we very much welcome:

  • Germany’s increased spending on security and defence.
  • The focus on shared investments and common European capabilities.
  • And the willingness to build a more capable European defence - firmly linked to transatlantic security.

Norway and Germany have developed an extensive cooperation on defence issues.

We cooperate on operations, exercises, and procurements.

We have a long-term partnership on submarines and missiles. This will be beneficial to both nations for decades to come.

Germany’s Zeitenwende – and the accession of Sweden and Finland to NATO – open up new opportunities for defence cooperation in Northern Europe.

***

Friends,

We live in uncertain times. The war in Ukraine continues.

At the global level, we are seeing large shifts in political, economic and military power.

We have to be prepared for the unexpected.

Still, I will be bold enough to make a few predictions for 2023:

  • Norway’s partnership with Germany will grow even stronger.
  • All of you in this room will play an important role in that.
  • And Michael – you and your colleagues at the chamber of commerce will be even busier

The chamber of commerce plays a key role in Team Norway in Germany. I want to thank you for our close cooperation, including through the Embassy in Berlin.

***

Germany has never been more important to Norway.

Which is why my key message to the students in Trondheim two weeks ago was: learn German!

As Norway’s Foreign Minister – but also as the daughter of a German teacher – I can assure you that this message comes from the heart.

And as I always say to my German counterparts – and as I told Annalena when she was in Norway:

“Seien Sie gewarnt! Auch wenn wir Norweger vielleicht nicht immer so gerne Deutsch sprechen – wir verstehen alles. Zumindest fast alles.”

I hope that 2023 will bring new successes for us all. I cannot wait to see what we will achieve together.

Vielen Dank für Ihre Aufmerksamkeit.