Foreign policy address  5 March 2015

The Storting, 5 March 2015

'I will focus this address on five main thematic areas: 1) security, 2) our fundamental values, 3) economic interests, 4) peace, development and humanitarian policy, and 5) the fight against climate change', Minister of Foreign Affairs Børge Brende said in his address to the Storting.

Translation from the Norwegian

Mr President,

Never before have so many people in the world enjoyed such high standards of living or benefited from so much cooperation. World trade has increased eightfold since 1970, and the number of people living in extreme poverty has been halved. More people are learning to read and write, and more people are able to enjoy good health.

However, 2014 was a year of crises, and it has shown that progress is not linear. We cannot simply assume that there will be continued progress.

Russia's violations of international law and destabilisation of Ukraine are spreading uncertainty throughout Europe. Terror attacks have recently struck at the heart of Europe, in Paris and Copenhagen. The brutality of ISIL and other extremist groups is deeply shocking. Not since the Second World War have so many people been forced to flee their homes.

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Conflicts in the Middle East formed the backdrop for the raised level of terror preparedness here in Norway last summer. Migration flows and human trafficking across the Mediterranean to Europe are putting pressure on the external border of the EU, which Norway shares. Foreign policy is becoming ever more closely intertwined with domestic policy. This calls for a united and effective response.

The main objective of Norwegian foreign policy is to safeguard and promote Norway's interests – our values, our security and our welfare. The more serious the threats we are facing, the more important it becomes to set clear priorities and focus our efforts on the key tasks of foreign policy.

We must base our foreign policy on the fundamental values we share with our allies and international partners. We must do all we can to prevent setbacks after decades of progress in the areas of democracy, human rights, free trade and international cooperation.

We must become better at dealing with unpredictable events. This is a question of robustness: of increasing the flexibility, staying power and resilience of Norwegian society in the face of rapid change.

My address today reflects the two sides of foreign policy work. On the one hand, there is the day-to-day process of dealing with a demanding international situation in which others – states and non-state actors alike – are driving events, and the Norwegian authorities have to respond rapidly and take swift action.

And on the other hand, there is the continuous process of basing our foreign policy on shared values, developing new policies to address new challenges and communicating clearly to audiences both at home and abroad what we stand for, and what our interests, priorities and values are. Of being a step ahead of developments, setting the course, and using the full range of foreign policy instruments.

Mr President,

I will focus this address on five main thematic areas: 1) security, 2) our fundamental values, 3) economic interests, 4) peace, development and humanitarian policy, and 5) the fight against climate change. These are the five main strands of Norwegian foreign policy. We are working systematically in each of these areas to promote Norwegian interests and values.

The first main strand of our foreign policy concerns Norway's security.

This means preventing wars and the emergence of other threats against Norway and Norwegian interests.

In the grave situation we are facing today, it is important to remind ourselves of how far we have come in recent decades, and to remember that we stand together with our allies. The progress that has been made in terms of increased trade, prosperity and cooperation has made us safer.

A new security architecture emerged out of the rubble of two devastating world wars on a continent that had previously been plagued by wars and rivalry, bringing with it peace and prosperity. NATO and the European project that would become the EU paved the way for progress and made friends of former enemies.

Transatlantic relations will remain a key priority in – and foundation of – Norwegian foreign and security policy. The US is still the dominant global actor in political, economic and military terms, and US involvement will continue to be crucial for achieving progress on a range of international issues of great importance to Norway.

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The political, economic and – not least – security situation in our neighbouring areas gives cause for serious concern.

Russia has violated international law and is inciting hostilities in Europe. In the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, our neighbouring country is challenging the very basis of the international legal order.

Russia has not only tried to change Ukraine's borders; it is also preventing the country from shaping its own future. Ultimately, this is a question of Ukraine's right to self-determination.

That is why the conflict is not just about Ukraine, but also about Russia's lack of respect for other states and for international rules.

Russia's use of military force, and the resulting heightened level of tension between Russia and European countries, have changed the underlying conditions for our security.

A number of NATO countries perceive Russia to be a threat. Russia's increased military activity and the changing nature of this activity on NATO's periphery are causing greater uncertainty, which in turn increases the likelihood of misunderstandings and an unwanted escalation of the situation.

Russia's actions in Ukraine give cause for grave concern. Ever since the crisis in Ukraine began, Norway has stood together with the EU, the US and other likeminded countries in reacting to Russia's violations of international law. It is essential that Norway and its allies stand united when one of our neighbouring countries is undermining European security and creating a dangerous situation in our neighbouring areas.

We have no choice but to react when fundamental principles of international law are violated. The restrictive measures against Russia are a necessary response to Russia's violation of fundamental international rules. The broad international support for these measures gives them legitimacy and makes them more effective.

It is Russia that has violated international law, and Russia now bears a heavy responsibility to prevent a further escalation of the situation. But from Norway's perspective, Russia needs to do more than this. Russia needs once again to show respect for international law and the established rules of international relations. Unfortunately, there are no signs yet that Russia will change its course.

It is encouraging that the parties to the conflict in Ukraine appear to have partly implemented the pull-out of heavy weapons, in accordance with the new Minsk agreement of 12 February, and that the fighting has eased in recent weeks. Nevertheless, the ceasefire appears to be fragile, and we must be prepared for a possible new escalation and new acts of violence.

There is no reason to believe that Russia sees its goals as having been reached. The overall objectives of the Russian authorities appear to be unchanged: to prevent Ukraine from achieving its aspirations of closer integration with the EU, and to make sure that Russia can still exert influence over Ukraine in such a way that Russian interests are safeguarded.

One important way of responding to Russia's aggression is to help Ukraine to succeed in its goals. During her visit to Kyiv in November 2014, Prime Minister Solberg launched a comprehensive support package from Norway to important sectors of Ukrainian society.

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Further south, the devastation being wrought by extremist groups such as ISIL, al-Qaida and Boko Haram is shocking the whole world. If terrorists were to gain long-term control over large areas, this would pose an unprecedented and unpredictable threat to much of the world – including Norway.

The fight against ISIL requires using a broad range of political, military, ideological and economic measures.

Norway is contributing in all of these areas. This has given us an important place at the table when the US and key countries from the Arab world, Europe and elsewhere meet to plan the fight against ISIL and other terrorist movements.

The tremendous humanitarian suffering caused by the conflicts in the region requires a massive humanitarian response. Norway is one of the main providers of humanitarian assistance to the civilian populations in Iraq, Syria and the region as a whole.

The Government has decided to send up to 120 military instructors to contribute to capacity building in the fight against ISIL in Iraq.

The new threats we are facing mean that action is called for. The Government will seek to strengthen cooperation under NATO and Norway's own national defence.

Alliance solidarity is of fundamental importance to Norway's security. If we are to expect our allies to come to our assistance, we must come to theirs. It is therefore in our interest to contribute to international operations.

It is crucial that Norway takes part in shaping policy and contributes to collective defence, crisis management and security through cooperation.

By doing so, we help to build security and we safeguard Norway, in close cooperation with our allies and partners.

Developments in recent years have shown that a rapid reaction capability is essential.

Norway is contributing to the important NATO adaptation measures that were endorsed at the Wales Summit last September. One of these measures is to establish a Very High Readiness Joint Task Force under the NATO Response Force (NRF) that will be able to deploy far more rapidly than the NRF has been able to before, and that can be backed up by reinforcement brigades.

This force will be an important and visible contribution to strengthening the credibility of NATO's collective defence.

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The Government will intensify Norway's efforts to address new global security challenges. A white paper on this topic is currently being prepared.

The white paper will analyse the following serious threats: new cybersecurity threats, international terrorism, organised crime, smuggling and piracy.

Global security threats are complex, and they are developing rapidly. They often arise in fragile states that do not have the capacity to combat them. It is important to take a long-term and coherent approach to this kind of threat. This is becoming an increasingly important part of our development policy.

We also safeguard Norway by helping to enhance the conflict resolution capabilities of international and regional actors.

I would like to highlight the growing significance of the Nordic and Nordic–Baltic cooperation in this context.

The increased security policy significance of the Baltic Sea region in relation to Russia makes Nordic and Nordic–Baltic cooperation even more relevant.

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The Arctic is important for Norway and for the entire world.

Our presence and activities in the Arctic strengthen Norway's international standing as a responsible Arctic nation.

We have vital Norwegian interests to safeguard in the north, relating to climate and the environment, access to previously inaccessible natural resources and trade routes, and security and stability in our neighbouring areas.

It is crucial that the legal and institutional framework for the Arctic is maintained and respected. International cooperation and respect for the Law of the Sea promote stability and predictability, which are essential for maintaining low levels of tension in the region.

We want to have good and constructive relations with Russia. We are maintaining our cooperation with Russia in important areas. This means that Russia continues to participate in the Arctic Council, the Barents Cooperation and other forums.

And this means that we must cooperate on matters where Norway has important interests of its own to safeguard, such as fisheries management, nuclear safety, the environment and security cooperation in Arctic coastal and sea areas. We will continue to support the people-to-people cooperation that has developed across the border between Norway and Russia. Norway will do its part to maintain contact in these areas and uphold our forums for cooperation with Russia in the north.

Having said this, we must acknowledge that the changes we are witnessing in Russia are having an impact on Norway's relations with Russia. Good and close cooperation requires that both countries respect fundamental rules and democratic values.

That is why our defence cooperation with Russia has been put on hold. We are following Russia's military priorities closely. The presence and activity of the Norwegian armed forces in the north is a key part of the Government's Arctic policy. Even though the danger of a serious crisis is still considered to be small, it is crucial that we remain vigilant, and that we have an in-depth understanding of the situation in the north and a high level of operational capability in the region.

The Russian authorities' increasing control, repression and pressure on human rights and democratic rights is having the effect of moving Russia further away from our common European values.

Sadly, the murder of Boris Nemtsov happened at a time when the political atmosphere in Russia is making it increasingly difficult to openly express independent and critical views.

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Mr President,

We have to know what we stand for in order to know what direction to take. That is why the second main strand of Norwegian foreign policy is to promote our fundamental values.

Democracy, human rights, sustainable development and an international legal order form the basis of our foreign and development policy.

If history has taught us anything, it is that we cannot take fundamental and universal values and norms for granted. They have been hard won and must be defended constantly. The past year has reminded us of this once again.

The terrorist attacks in Paris and Copenhagen were direct attacks on freedom of speech, on the right to have a different opinion, on the right to challenge the powers that be. The attacks were an attempt to scare us into silence.

This is something we will never accept. Freedom of expression is at the heart of every democracy.

And we will be just as unwavering in our opposition to anti-Semitism and all other forms of racism.

We need to be clear about this: the attacks by the terrorist groups ISIL and Boko Haram on freedom of belief and on those who think differently are attacks on our fundamental values.

We have achieved a great deal in the area of human rights, but unfortunately we are seeing a growing gap between human rights obligations on paper and their implementation in practice.

Alliances of countries are invoking traditional values and religious dogmas as grounds for restricting the rights of the individual. They refer to principles of national sovereignty and non-intervention in a state's internal affairs. We cannot accept this.

It is against this backdrop that we recently presented the first white paper on human rights for 15 years. The objective of the white paper is to promote our fundamental values. These are the values that define who we are and what we are willing to fight for.

The white paper attaches particular importance to freedom of expression. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has started work on a new strategy to promote freedom of expression, freedom of the press and independent media.

Respect for human rights is a key factor in creating favourable conditions for development and growth. It is hard to overstate the importance to Norway of widespread respect for and adherence to shared values and norms. Our security and welfare depend on this, and on the principle that right should prevail over might.

In the work of upholding a world order based on these principles, the UN has a key role to play. The Security Council is the UN's primary body for promoting international peace and security.

We are now intensifying our efforts to secure Norway a seat on the Security Council for 2021–22. This is part of a long-term policy to safeguard our strategic interests in the UN.

This year is the 70th anniversary of the UN. The organisation must continue to adapt to a changing world. We are building on the work of previous governments on matters relating to the UN. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has just launched a new project that will seek to promote more effective multilateral institutions.

In several important UN processes that are taking place in 2015 and in which Norway has a key role, we will provide input from our work to promote UN reform. These processes include the Financing for Development process and conference in Addis Ababa in July, the transition from the Millennium Development Goals to the adoption of new sustainable development goals at the Sustainable Development Summit in September, and the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris in December.

This year is a particularly important year for international development.

The time ahead will test the ability of the UN and other building blocks of the multilateral system – the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the regional development banks – to pull in the same direction.

And, not least, the time ahead will test whether we can succeed in our concerted efforts to promote national resource mobilisation, private sector development and job creation in developing countries.

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Mr President,

The third main strand of the Government's foreign policy is promoting Norway's economic interests.

This means that we will seek to ensure prosperity and growth by providing favourable framework conditions for an economy that is highly vulnerable to international political and economic trends.

We have a good starting point. Norway has a robust economy, a high degree of welfare, a strong ability to adapt and good conditions for the business sector.

The work to ensure fair and equal rules within the framework of an open global economy will continue to be the main contribution foreign policy can make for the Norwegian economy and business sector.

The multilateral trading system is of particular importance to Norway. The World Trade Organization (WTO) and the EEA and EFTA free trade agreements are the cornerstone of Norwegian trade policy.

The fact that the WTO is faltering as a negotiating forum poses a challenge for Norway.

Given the lack of momentum in the Doha Round of trade negotiations in the WTO, important trading partners have joined forces to negotiate alternative mega-agreements, such as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the US and EU, and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) between the US, Japan, and ten other countries in the Asia-Pacific region.

Increased integration between our close partners in the EU and the US is good. At the same time, this means new challenges and a new competitive situation for the Norwegian business sector. The Government is working actively to safeguard Norwegian interests in the light of the negotiations that have been taking place in Brussels and Washington.

Against this backdrop, the successful conclusion of the WTO Doha Round is a matter of importance for the Government.

Given the current challenges, it is probably more important to achieve an overall result that safeguards the rules-based multilateral trading system than to focus on specific issues.

A successful conclusion of the Doha Round would serve as an economic catalyst for Norway and the rest of the world, and would promote growth and job creation.

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The Government is stepping up the pace of its efforts to promote the interests of the Norwegian business sector. We are investing in competitiveness, knowledge and innovation. Accordingly, the work of the Foreign Service must take this into account.

The Foreign Service is to be a relevant dialogue partner for the business sector and for our leading research communities. Norway should be promoted as an attractive place for bright minds, talented individuals and investors.

The EU is, in effect, Norway's domestic market. The Government is leaving no stone unturned in its efforts to create favourable conditions for trade and investment in EU countries. The Norwegian business sector should feel the effects of this, and indeed is now doing so.

It is crucial to us that Europe manages to revitalise its economy.

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Companies based in Norway are rapidly entering new and more challenging markets. We will strengthen the advisory role of the Foreign Service vis-à-vis the business sector on corruption, human rights, workers' rights, and climate and the environment. This should be an integral part of business promotion work at the missions abroad.

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More than three quarters of Norway's export revenues come from economic activities linked to the sea and coastal areas. We have relied on the resources of the sea for more than a thousand years, and this is where the future lies. Oil and gas, the oil services industry, fisheries, aquaculture and shipping; marine and maritime industries are some of Norway's main hallmarks internationally.

The Government's Arctic policy, with its emphasis on business development and closer links between research and industry, is of key importance. Our aim is to develop North Norway to become one of our most creative and innovative regions.

Mr President,

Efforts to promote peace and development and provide humanitarian relief are the fourth strand of our foreign policy. Our consistently active engagement in these areas, over time and despite changing governments, is a strength. Norway's policy in these areas enjoys broad support, and is primarily based on shared values and the humanitarian imperative.

Pursuing an active policy in these areas also promotes Norway's interests.

We are witnessing how the impact of wars and conflicts in other regions is spreading to Europe and to Norway. Seeking to resolve and prevent conflict in these regions is in Norway's interest.

Successful development efforts provide favourable conditions for a rapidly growing and increasingly globalised middle class, which in turn results in greater demand for Norwegian goods and services. A climate-conscious development policy leads to a reduction in emissions, to the benefit of our planet.

An effective policy of engagement opens doors to important actors globally and enhances Norway's positive image and visibility, which is invaluable in our efforts to promote Norwegian interests.

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Since 1990, the number of people living in extreme poverty has been reduced by two thirds. This is an extraordinary achievement – above all, by the people, business sectors and governments in the countries concerned.

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I would like to highlight some key priorities within the fourth strand of our foreign policy: humanitarian efforts, education, health, job creation, conflict prevention, and efforts to promote peace and reconciliation in vulnerable areas.

In 2015, the UN and the International Committee of the Red Cross have launched their largest ever humanitarian appeals. Humanitarian needs have increased dramatically, and the global response has been inadequate. The Government has therefore substantially increased Norway's humanitarian budget over the past two years.

In order to be able to deal with the many and protracted humanitarian crises, we need to think along new lines with regard to financing and how we use the total resources that are available. We must strengthen the links between humanitarian and long-term development efforts.

In order to ensure sustainable development and a future for those affected, rather than just saving lives, development actors must start working in crisis situations at an earlier stage.

Education in situations of crisis and conflict is a key focus area in following up last year's white paper on education for development.

Norway provided more than NOK 200 million in humanitarian assistance for education in 2014, and this amount will be further increased. Protection of schools and universities from military use during armed conflict is another key priority in our humanitarian efforts.

Guidelines have been drawn up to provide protection and continued schooling for children and young people, even in situations of armed conflict.

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A recent World Bank survey revealed that the Bank's recipient countries give highest priority to education. This is for good reason. Without the provision of high-quality education, countries cannot build the competence that they need to create jobs and facilitate economic growth.

Norway is taking a leading role to give education – particularly for girls – greater prominence on the global development agenda.

In January, we launched a results-based fund together with the World Bank. This is one of the initiatives we hope will help to reverse an almost incomprehensible downward trend in donor countries' provision of aid to education.

And we will do more. We will think along new lines, take new initiatives and focus on results. We cannot expect to succeed by simply doing more of the same.

We will redouble our efforts to promote education – not only over the aid budget, but through a concerted effort that spans foreign and development policy, involves other actors, and that really makes a difference.

This summer we are hosting a global summit to mobilise many other countries and partners to join in and do their part.

If we are to succeed in the long-term fight against violent extremism, we need to work to address the underlying factors that breed such movements. Education plays a key role here.

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Good health, like education, is a prerequisite for economic growth. We are building on the previous Government's good work for global health, which has given Norway a global leadership role. Although significant progress has been made, the health MDGs will not be met.

It is important that we have concrete plans and financing to continue to work towards these goals after the 2015 deadline. Gavi (the Vaccine Alliance) and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria are flagships in this context.

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa reminds us of the links between health and security. In the fight against Ebola, Norway has helped to save lives. This crisis shows the importance of having health systems that are robust and able to adapt. The crisis management capability of WHO should be strengthened.

Prime Minister Solberg, Germany's Chancellor Merkel and Ghana's President Mahama recently asked the UN Secretary-General to conduct an evaluation of the international community's efforts in the fight against Ebola.

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Access to work is a decisive factor for combating poverty, and this features prominently in a white paper that is currently being drafted on business development and cooperation with the private sector in development policy. The World Bank estimates that there is a need for three million new jobs each month for the next 15 years. In developing countries, nine out of ten jobs are in the private sector.

Earned income is much more effective in reducing poverty than transfers of funds, for example in the form of development assistance. That is why job creation is a key element in the Government's support for business development in developing countries.

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Many of today's global security threats are symptoms of unsolved political challenges. The result is violence and states losing control over their territory and borders. The challenge lies in not merely relieving the symptoms, but in helping to address some of the underlying causes.

Our engagement in peace and reconciliation work is based on recognition of this fact. We are taking part in peace and reconciliation efforts in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Norway has the role of facilitator in several processes. One of them is the peace process in Colombia, where Norway is playing a central role, together with Cuba.

The armed conflict in Colombia has lasted for more than 50 years, and has led to widespread humanitarian suffering. More than five million people have been internally displaced and over 200 000 killed as a result of the conflict.

In February, the Government launched a new national action plan for women, peace and security. This is a key aspect of Norwegian foreign policy.

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The conflict in South Sudan is now in its 15th month. There is an imminent danger of famine, millions of people have fled their homes, and thousands of lives have been lost in the hostilities.

So far, the parties to the conflict have let their lust for power and special interests take precedence over the needs of the people. The goal of the ongoing negotiations is to reach agreement on the division of power and a transitional government by today, 5 March.

If the parties to the conflict do not grasp this opportunity, the UN Security Council is now prepared to impose sanctions on those blocking peace in the country.

We will also reconsider the orientation and scope of Norway's engagement in South Sudan if the parties fail to reach a sustainable peace agreement.

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In Syria, there is a desperate need for a political solution in order to bring an end to the violence. There is no military solution that would be good for the people of Syria. Norway is actively supporting the peace initiatives of UN Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura.

The UN is still the only actor with a generally accepted mandate to bring the parties to the conflict to the negotiating table. Norway is making a major humanitarian contribution in Syria, and provided a total of NOK 936 million in 2014, for humanitarian aid, support for Syria's neighbouring countries, and transport of chemical weapons out of Syria. We are planning to make substantial contributions in 2015 as well.

ISIL's kidnapping of more than 200 Assyrian Christians in Syria last week was a brutal reminder of the precarious situation of religious minorities in the region. Religious pluralism is an intrinsic part of the history and culture of the Middle East. Norway will continue to fight religious extremism and to support the rights of minorities.

In Iraq, Prime Minister al-Abadi has formed a more inclusive government than his predecessor, Mr Maliki. This is encouraging. Nevertheless, there is still much to be done before Iraqi Sunnis, Kurds and Shiites feel that they are all part of a joint project for the future of Iraq. Norway is providing substantial humanitarian aid to Iraq, in addition to the military contribution I mentioned earlier.

In the vacuum that arose after the negotiations collapsed, the Gaza war last summer drove Israel and Palestine even further apart. Immense suffering has been inflicted on civilians. The Palestinian economy is even weaker than before. The parties urgently need to resume the political process. The outstanding issues can only be resolved at the negotiating table.

The most important task for Norway is chairing the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC) of international donors to the Palestinian Authority.

Unless the Palestinian Authority has a viable economic foundation, the bottom will drop out of the political process.

The role Norway is playing here is also important for facilitating a resumption of negotiations. However, only if the occupation is brought to an end can the challenges be solved and the foundation laid for peaceful coexistence.

Mr President,

The fifth main strand is to strengthen the role of foreign policy in the fight against climate change. Unless greenhouse gas emissions are reduced substantially in the coming years, it will be very difficult to achieve the two-degree target. And climate change will be even more dramatic.

We are already seeing clear consequences in the form of increased devastation caused by extreme weather events, intense precipitation and flooding, stronger competition for fish resources, loss of biodiversity, inadequate supplies of food and water, more health problems, reduced economic growth and greater inequality. Many people are being forced to flee from areas where it is no longer possible to live, and this is increasing the likelihood of conflict.

The Government is pursuing a proactive climate policy. The goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40 % compared with 1990 levels. Achieving large cuts in emissions requires adaptation at the global level.

All countries must do their part, and emissions must be reduced in a cost-effective manner. Norway has a considerable job to do at home, but we must also share our resources and our expertise beyond our borders. This is where foreign policy can play an important role.

We are now intensifying our efforts to achieve effective adaptation to climate change in areas prone to drought, flooding and extreme weather, with a view to preventing or mitigating climate-related natural disasters.

The significance of foreign policy for climate policy has been highlighted by the Government's decision to enter into dialogue with the EU with a view to adopting the EU's overriding target of reducing domestic greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40 % below the 1990 level. An adjustment of this kind in Norway's overall climate strategy would provide exciting opportunities for greater cooperation with the EU, individual EU member states, and European companies and research communities.

I have launched a cooperative effort with my French counterpart, Laurent Fabius, who is leading the preparatory work for the UN Climate Change Conference (COP21) in Paris in December. In two weeks' time, we are holding a joint seminar on foreign policy and climate change in Paris. The significance of the Arctic in the context of climate change is an important topic in the climate cooperation between Norway and France.

It is absolutely essential that we achieve an ambitious and effective global climate agreement. But we also have to take action here and now.

Norway is playing an active role by using climate finance strategically through the Green Climate Fund and other multilateral and bilateral channels, by continuing to give high priority to the Norwegian Climate and Forest Initiative, by supporting increased use of renewable energy in developing countries, and by supporting the phasing out of subsidies for fossil fuels.

  • We are carrying out global projects to reduce gas flaring and methane emissions from oil and gas production.
  • We are promoting green growth and the internationalisation of Norwegian climate technology.
  • We are implementing measures to target short-lived climate pollutants, such as methane, hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and soot.
  • We are investing in adaptation to climate change, including disaster preparedness and food security measures.
  • We are participating in negotiations between key WTO members on zero tariffs for an agreed list of environmental goods that have a positive climate impact.

The threat posed by climate change is one of the greatest challenges we face. As an energy-producing nation and a country rich in natural resources, Norway has much to contribute in the global fight against climate change. At the same time, our economy and society clearly need to adapt to a changing situation. We must do our best to anticipate future developments and understand the framework conditions and options available to Norway.

We must be at the forefront of research on new technology, and promote favourable conditions for environmentally sound and climate-friendly development.

Mr President,

I have painted a serious picture of international developments and the challenges Norway is facing in the time ahead. But the outlook is by no means entirely bleak.

We have a great deal to build on, powerful traditions and alliances, a strong value base and many effective tools at our disposal. We must stay calm and maintain our faith in our society, in what we stand for, and in the international institutions that are helping to secure our future.

We are living in a time of geopolitical change. Globally, power and wealth are moving towards the East and South. This is a challenge, but it also gives rise to new opportunities. We are nowhere near the confrontational situation that prevailed during the Cold War, with its two superpowers. Despite tensions between China and the US, these countries have a clear interest in each other's success, in economic, political and security terms. The recent climate cooperation between the US and China has sparked fresh hope in the lead-up to the climate conference in Paris.

Developments in China and in other emerging economies are important for Norway – politically, economically and in the context of efforts to address the global problems relating to the environment and climate change.

The work to improve Norway's relations with China is continuing and is being given priority. This work is based on Norwegian interests and values.

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We must have the courage to think big in the face of the challenges posed by globalisation, geopolitical instability in our neighbouring areas and faltering problem-solving processes at the international level. We must promote our interests, maintain a clearly recognisable profile, and build on our strengths. We need to be loyal and support our close allies, while also looking for new regional and global partnerships.

Europe is the most important region for Norway, in both economic and political terms. We are expanding and strengthening our relations with the EU.

There has scarcely been a time when NATO cooperation was more important. The OSCE, the Council of Europe and the Arctic Council are important pillars of Europe's political architecture. This year it is 70 years since the UN Charter was adopted. We need a strong UN more than ever. Norway is intensifying its efforts to promote an effective UN response to global challenges.

We are also building alliances in new contexts at the international level. In January, we signed a unique strategic partnership agreement with the African Union. We are in the process of formalising important agreements on political and economic cooperation with regional associations in Asia and Latin America.

Mr President,

The world is changing. Our long-term interests and goals have not changed, but our policies must be adapted to the new reality.

I have presented the five main strands of Norway's foreign policy. Our focus on these main strands gives structure to our response to the current major challenges. It helps to prepare Norway to meet future challenges. And it highlights the importance of promoting Norwegian interests and investing in the values and the global framework that will ensure that right prevails over might.