The Prime Minister's comments at the open welcoming session of Oslo Forum

'It is a positive sign that people acknowledge that you will not come far by only using brute force; you have to find ways of talking', said Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre.

Transcript from the video recording

– On policy priorities: is peacemaking, trying to end wars, still a top priority, given all the difficulties:

Well, yes, I would say even more so. Because if this was a time to say – okay, now it is time to sit back or to think that others can do the job – that is not the time now. But what I do think now is the time for, and you mentioned it in your introduction, David (Harland, CHD); this is now a changing field, with changing methodology, changing partners.

And I would like to take some inspiration from a completely different field which I was engaged in 20 years ago; global health. I would like to sum up saying that over the first 20 years of this century, the global health field is probably the most innovative part of international cooperation that we have seen. New partnerships, new achievements, working very differently from before, scaling up immunization, vaccines, maternal health initiatives, and so on and so forth.

For me this is an inspiration to see, and say; okay, today, how do we do mediation, facilitation? Norway can never weigh in with its weight and force partners, but we can come in – if we have the opportunities – to build bridges, create environments that can move forward. However, I think we acknowledge that we have to do that differently now.

And this is part of why Oslo Forum is so important, also from a methodological point of view – how we do things. So, I would say, peacemaking is even more important, because we are now, some would say, ‘sleepwalking’ into very dangerous situations; David mentioned some figures.

And we can feel that, you know, we live now on the continent with a very brutal open war. And we live in an environment with nuclear armament getting out of control. So, if there is a time to say we have to re-engage – the whole Middle East is in a very dire situation – it is now.

I think it is also about understanding who has access. How can you understand the driving forces of the existing conflict? For me, it comes back to the eternal theme; when do we talk? And when is it worthwhile not talking? What do you achieve by not talking? Sometimes you should not talk. But I think the delicate issue here, which brings you out of norms and comfort, is to say; when do you have to cross that line and talk to somebody with whom you have profound differences?

I would say that it is a positive sign that people acknowledge that you will not come far by only using brute force; you have to find ways of talking. So again, who has access to talking? How do you organize that? I think we see that there are new parties. There can be countries, states. We see the role that Qatar is playing now in different settings. And there are economic interests, and there are individuals with different access. This issue of bringing conflicts into the zones of talking; I think the President (of Somalia) has been, as I told him, a voice of perseverance, but also of moderation and of maneuvering within a very complex setting. We need to get hold of those voices. And again, I think the case for not talking has not been proven stronger over the last years.

– On the recognition of the Palestinian state:

We in Norway have been through this for many years, leading up to a couple of weeks ago when Norway decided to recognize the state of Palestine. I will share with you one main objective for doing that; it was to enable structures inside a state concept that is bound by international law, international resolutions, UN structures, to be the voice in what may become future negotiations. Because if you don't enable those kinds of hard-won structures, which are inside the state with all the challenges that the Palestinian state will have, you will let the other forces, which are the militant, violent, call them terrorist voices, have the day and be the voice.

And I think that was the necessary change from our side, because we have always said that we will do the recognition once there is a final peace deal. Well, there is no final peace deal on the horizon. We all want it to happen. There is a government in Israel now openly against it. That is their choice. But I think, for us, it was a way of expressing that what has to come after this war – and let us hope there will be a day after this war which can point ahead – then we have to also give legitimacy and attention to those who will be bound by these principles. If not, it will be those other voices that will be dominating. So, that is an important part here, and that is why I think the President (of Somalia) deserves support for his principled approach to this; ready to talk at a certain moment, and being prepared for that, which would be a big hurdle anyway, it will require a lot. But this is still, you know, some of the other struggles the President has with neighbouring countries, not respecting international law. I think also the Foreign Minister (of Indonesia) says it well; there has to be some foundation here. And that is why in this case, I think statehood is about integrity around those who will have to speak on behalf of Palestinians – in the difficult phase that lies ahead.

For information about the conference, see: Oslo Forum