Introduction and conclusion at the launch of the multi-year Nansen Support Programme for Ukraine
Speech/statement | Date: 16/02/2023 | Office of the Prime Minister
President Zelensky, President of the Storting, Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to this historic session. Mr President, it is an honour to have you with us again, on the screen here in the Norwegian parliament.
Before we continue, I will step back, and we will have a picture taken with all the political party leaders and you together, to document this event.
Mr President, you are heartily welcome. You are almost in Oslo.
I will now make a short address. I will do that in my mother tongue, in Norwegian, but I know that you have had the text forwarded to you so that you can read the message in translation.
Good morning everyone,
On 24 February 2022, we awoke to the fact that Ukraine was under attack, from Belarus in the north, Donbas in the east and Crimea in the south.
That morning, when the tanks rolled across the border and the bomber aircraft flew into Ukrainian airspace, is a watershed moment in European history.
It was the start of the first war of aggression in Europe since World War II. We are confronting the terrible brutality of this war every day.
Mothers and fathers are losing their children.
And children are losing their mothers and fathers.
Innocent people are being killed.
Millions have been forced to flee their homes.
Cities and villages are being bombed to ruins.
Personally, I am still digesting what I saw and heard in my meetings with victims of the war when I visited Ukraine this past summer.
At the same time, I continue to be impressed and moved by the courage and resourcefulness of the Ukrainian people, as well as their determination to defend their country’s autonomy and – what is most important to all of us – freedom.
We should keep in mind that the outcome of this war will not be determined by the number of soldiers and weapons alone. What you are fighting for, and who you are fighting with, will also play into the equation.
And in that conviction – in that fight – Ukraine does not stand alone. We who are here today stand together with the Ukrainian people.
Today, a broad majority in the Storting is launching a support programme for Ukraine.
The support programme has been named after Nobel Peace Prize laureate Fridtjof Nansen, in commemoration of his outstanding humanitarian efforts in Ukraine a hundred years ago. In his Nobel lecture, Nansen issued a challenge to the world that I would like to quote here – and reiterate:
‘Everyone must join in this work. We must take up the fiery cross and light the beacons so that they shine from every mountain. We must raise our banner in every country and forge the links of brotherhood around the world.’
And that is what we are doing together today, we are lighting beacons in Norway so that they shine from all of our mountains.
We who have come together here today represent different political parties, we represent the Norwegian people, and we have different political agendas.
We meet on a daily basis for debate, for a frank exchange of views, and for negotiation.
It is a hallmark of our society, and of Norway’s democracy, that we are able to find a common path in matters that demand this of us.
And nothing is more important than the defence of democracy and democratic governance. Here we are united across political differences and dividing lines. As we have shown today with the launch of the Nansen Support Programme for Ukraine.
The support programme has an overall framework of NOK 75 billion (EUR 7.5 billion) and encompasses military support for Ukraine’s legitimate self-defence, short-term civilian humanitarian aid and funding to support the reconstruction of Ukrainian society, when this becomes possible.
What is important to highlight is that this is a support programme which will extend over five years, from 2023 to 2027, and thus beyond the next election and into the next parliamentary period. That is what we as political leaders have agreed to today.
Furthermore, a broad majority of the parties in the Storting have agreed on an additional allocation in 2023 of NOK 5 billion for developing countries in the Global South that are particularly severely affected by the ramifications of the war.
For the people of Ukraine, this war is a bloodbath every day.
But the war has profound implications for Norway as well. It concerns us all.
International law is our first line of defence.
Our security, prosperity and freedom all rest on a rules-based order.
Where relations between states follow the power of the law, and not the law of power.
Where we do not differentiate between the rights of large and small states.
And where sovereign states have the right to defend themselves and the right to receive help from friends to aid their self-defence.
Russia’s war against Ukraine violates all of these principles that are of such fundamental importance to Norway and our national interests.
This is why Ukraine’s battle is our battle as well.
Ukraine’s freedom is inextricably linked to our own.
So this was my message.
On behalf of the Norwegian people, and the political parties in the Storting, I want to say to you, President Zelensky, that I commend you for your courage and for the courage of your people, and I want to tell you and the Ukrainian people: We stand with you.
And now, I have the pleasure of giving you the floor, dear Volodomyr.
Thank you, Mr President, thank you Volodomyr, for addressing the Storting again – as you did, in March last year and now in February.
You are Norway’s friend and we will stand with you – you can be sure of that.
We know that you have to go back to your duties – we admire your courage – so rest assured that you have the support of the Norwegian people in your fight for freedom. So thank you, Mr President, and we look forward to seeing you again soon.
Now we will hear from the other parties. First I will give the podium to the Minister of Finance, and after that the parliamentary leaders will speak in succession. Mr Minister, the floor is yours.
I would like to thank the parliamentary leaders and the parties that have contributed for the discussions we have had.
It is one of the strengths of our society that we can have heated debates in the Storting and disagree with each other, but that when something of this magnitude comes along, we can set aside differences and focus on what unites us. This is what we have done here today.
I would like to say something to those of you with a Ukrainian background who are living in Norway: it is important that you are here with us today. You have listened to your President. We have listened to a European leader who has become a historic voice for freedom, and as Irene said, whether you come from Ukraine or from Russia, it is important to us to ensure that you will be safe and well looked after in our country. Many people have come from Ukraine to Norway, and there will be many more. Norway will take good care of them.
I would like to thank everyone who has helped to make this support programme possible. Many of them are not here now, but they include good colleagues in ministries, posted employees in Ukraine and our partners in Europe.
We have informed our allies, our partners and our neighbours about the programme.
Each country must assess its own financial possibilities, and these will differ. But as President Zelensky said, and as several of my colleagues have pointed out today, the important thing to highlight is that this support programme extends across a period of five years. We have put in place a political agreement that involves a commitment beyond the next election. In doing so, we are making it clear that rather than providing short-term assistance, Norway is committing itself to a long-term engagement in support of Ukraine.
That is the crux of today’s message. That and the fact that we also have a large majority in favour of providing extra assistance to the countries in the Global South.
This now concludes today’s event. Thank you all for your active participation.