Speech/statement | Date: 31/01/2018 | Ministry of Foreign Affairs
By Former State Secretary Marianne Hagen (Bamako, 31 January)
State Secretary Marianne Hagen opened the embassy in Bamako, Mali, after the ambassador Ole Andreas Lindeman's introduction.
Thank you Ambassador,
Your Excellency, Minister Coulibaly,
Excellencies, Government Ministers
Excellencies, Members of the Diplomatic Corps and Representatives of Minusma and International Organisations
Dear representatives of Norwegian NGOs in Mali
I would like to extend warm greetings to you from the Government of Norway – from a country almost 5000 km from where we are standing here.
It’s an interesting fact that the Tropic of Cancer runs through Mali, while another of the world’s great parallels – the Arctic Circle – runs through Norway, almost 44 degrees north of Bamako.
Parallels, as we all know, never meet.
Luckily this has not stopped the people of Mali and Norway from meeting.
Today we meet at this important milestone, writing another chapter in the development of the relationship between Mali and Norway.
Norway’s relationship with Africa has a long history. Missionaries and aid workers from Norway have since the 19th century travelled throughout Africa and established schools and hospitals, working with the poorest in African societies.
In Mali, our cooperation started nearly 40 years ago. I am pleased to see that day by day our relations are growing steadily stronger.
We stand by Mali in its efforts to create sustainable development that offers education, health, equal opportunities, and hope – leaving no one behind.
Many Norwegians and Norwegian NGOs have taken part in this important task.
I would like in particular to draw attention to the longstanding efforts of Norwegian Church Aid (Aide de l’Eglise Norvégienne). I would also like to mention the work of La Mission Protestante Norvégienne (Normisjon), Care, the Norwegian Lutheran Mission, the Norwegian Missionary Society, the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (Adra), Caritas, Strømme Foundation and the Norwegian Refugee Council.
Their local implementing partners here in Mali are critical. Some of them face dangers and difficulties on a daily basis, as they seek to provide help and services to their countrymen and women.
Many Norwegians have built close ties to this fascinating country. This is important, as much of the funding comes from public fundraising, especially in churches and religious organisations.
The engagement also mobilizes interest - and curiosity and knowledge about Mali.
In particular, there is growing interest in Mali’s rich cultural traditions.
Norway has supported the conservation of some of Mali’s cultural treasures. The Timbuktu manuscripts from the 12th to the 15th centuries bear testimony to Timbuktu’s unique history as a centre of learning and cultural exchange, and as a crossroads between major trade routes. They also give us invaluable information about the pre-colonial history of Muslim Africa.
Malian voices are reaching Norway in other ways too. On the world music programme that is broadcast every Saturday on Norwegian radio, we often hear musicians from Mali such as Amadou & Mariam and Ali Farka Touré.
Oumou Sangaré and Tinariwen have performed at some of our most popular music venues.
Just as voices from Mali are heard in Norway, we are now bringing our voice to your country.
Mali is a priority partner in our development cooperation.
Our aim is to assist Mali in eradicating poverty and fulfilling the Sustainable Development Goals, and to help the country to ensure:
- quality education for all,
- good health services,
- food security,
- and to develop an agricultural sector that is able to adapt to climate change.
We also intend to assist Mali in its effort to regain peace and security;
- to restore government authority over all of its territory,
- to resolve conflicts and deal with the effects of terrorist incursion,
- and to address the core drivers of migration.
We have come here in solidarity, and as part of the international community. We recognise that we face many of the same threats, and this has brought us closer together.
Norwegian men and women are serving in Minusma. Together with our partners, we have decided to extend the rotational scheme for transport aircraft to Minusma until 2020. This means that our presence in the mission will be substantially increased for a six-month period in 2019.
We will continue to provide funding for the UN funds and agencies that are working in Mali.
We support the cooperation between the United Nations, the African Union and the European Union. We also welcome and support regional initiatives such as the G5 Sahel joint force.
Ladies and gentlemen,
We want to join forces with you and support you in your efforts to reach your goals.
This is why Norway is now opening an embassy in Bamako. It will also serve as a regional embassy for the Sahel region.
We want to be a reliable partner in the region for the long run.
Establishing this embassy in such a short space of time would not have been possible without the invaluable help of our Danish and Swedish friends and the Malian authorities.
I would in particular like to thank the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which has opened all the necessary doors for us.
Speaking of doors, you may have noticed that the doors you walked through on the way in to this little bit of Norway are typical Malian doors.
We wanted the design of the embassy to show that this is a place where Norway and Mali meet.
When Malians enter this Norwegian space through Malian doors, we hope you will feel truly welcome.
I hope that these doors can be a symbol of our friendship with Mali.