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Remarks at the Leipziger Buchmesse Press Conference

State Secretary Marianne Hagen's remarks at the Leipziger Buchmesse press conference.

Thank you, Margit,
Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren,

Being Guest of Honour at the Frankfurter Buchmesse this October is a unique opportunity for Norway. To showcase our rich and diverse literature and culture. And to spotlight the universal principles of human rights, cultural diversity and cultural rights.

Our Guest of Honour project has three main pillars.

Firstly, we will present a broad range of voices from Norway, starting right here in Leipzig where readers can meet 18 of our finest writers in different genres during die Buchmesse and das Lesefest. Throughout 2019, a large number of authors from Norway – both well-known names and new talents – will travel to Germany and take part in hundreds of literary events all over the country. They will share their stories, raise important questions about our time, and engage in discussions and dialogue with their reading audience. You will learn more about Norway’s literary programme in a few minutes.

Secondly, we want to spark the joy of reading, especially among children and young people, but also among adults. I believe there is a book for everyone among the 250 new Norwegian titles that will be available in German this year – novels, poetry, drama, classics, documentaries, educational literature, and books for children and youth.

Last, but not least, together with our German and international partners, Norway will use die Frankfurter Buchmesse as a platform to defend, promote and discuss our shared values: human rights, democracy and freedom of expression.

Writers, artists and publishers have always been at the front line in the struggle for these values. Author and musician Moddi reminded us of this a few moments ago with the song he performed from his book and album Unsongs. Ten untold stories about cencorship and music.

Freedom of expression is the very foundation of democracy. Protecting those who speak up and speak out is therefore an important part of Norway’s human rights policy. Today, freedom of expression is under increasing pressure in many countries around the world, also here in Europe.

We must all – writers, artists, publishers, journalists, and representatives of civil society and governments –fight back against the forces that want to curtail freedom of expression. We must work together to expand and strengthen the democratic space, and make sure that the universal human rights are respected and protected – in all parts of the world.

Thank you. Danke schön.

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