The visit of Prime Minister Støre to the Foreign Press Association (FPA)

‘The last year has highlighted the importance of Norwegian gas; we were able to increase our gas export by 8-10%, on top of what has already been a high level, partly contributing to level up the storage of gas in Europe, especially in Germany’, said Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre at a meeting with FPA.

Full transcript, based on the sound recording

Meeting with Støre and FPA.
Prime Minister Støre meeting with FPA 22 May 2023. Credit: Øyvind Stokke / Statsministerens kontor

Excerpt from the PM’s briefing to the FPA

Norway, Europe, energy

So, on Norway and Europe; the energy field is really what is driving a lot of this, and I sense that we are in the beginning of a quite new chapter which will also highlight Norwegian energy policy. The last year has highlighted the importance of Norwegian gas; we were able to increase our gas export by 8-10%, on top of what has already been a high level, partly contributing to level up the storage of gas in Europe, especially in Germany. And now gas is being linked to a scenario of hydrogen, green hydrogen from renewables or blue hydrogen produced by gas with Co2 captured and stored.

And my sense from the Green Energy Alliance that we signed with the EU three weeks ago, is highlighting how rapidly this has gone during one year. To enter into a Green Alliance with the EU would not have been imaginable two, four or six years ago, but now it really covers a whole range of issues, energy, climate, green issues, environment, circular economy, to carbon capture and storage and cooperation on that.

So, this – I think – is really a material change that is taking place with very long and close partners, European Union, Germany, which is in a very special position, leading the industrial development – but also with countries around the North Sea. Two weeks ago, we were in Oostende for the Offshore Wind Summit, with the North Sea grid now taking shape. It is a challenging business, because a lot of countries are now venturing into offshore wind, because it is an obvious potential, and it will be a future energy source for Europe.

But many coming in at the same time is also creating bottlenecks and prices that are going up, so that is a challenging industry, but you know, Norway aims for 30 GW offshore wind production by 2040. We have the first licences out, and the next round in 2025, we are preparing for that now, and the industry is adapting.


I started with that because – obviously – the war in Ukraine has changed the landscape in Europe. As you know, Norway will – as you saw, a few days ago, the Nordic prime ministers met in Finland with president Zelensky – so, then we repeated our support; we have the five years’ Nansen Program, which is now supported by all parties in the Parliament – 7 billion euros over five years.

Its inspiration is to support the Ukrainian reconstruction, after this devastating war, but for 2023 we plan to have a 50-50 military-civilian dimension, and what we will do for 2024, we don’t know yet, but – as you know – we now have full backing from all parties of the Parliament to support the Ukrainians’ right to defend themselves, also with military materiel.

And we work with our allies on structures to support Ukraine with the most pressing needs, be it financially, through common funds, be it military training, partly in Norway, partly in other European countries, and also with military equipment. I am happy to see that the Norwegian made air defence system plays an important role, in Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities, able to take down Russian missiles.

And we will support Ukraine for the long run, and we do that in close cooperation with the European Union. As you know, we have mirrored the sanctions packages from the European Union.


We are now preparing for the NATO Summit in Vilnius, it will be an informal Foreign Ministers meeting in Oslo in a few weeks, this will be an important meeting leading up to Vilnius and the Foreign Minister and I, and we are working on creating the right atmosphere for that meeting. For us, Vilnius should confirm Sweden’s membership; we really hope that it will be possible to fix the remaining issues with Turkey, so that this very obvious and well-deserved status can be achieved. Finland and Sweden fulfil all the criteria that we agreed in Madrid last July, and we should be able now this July to confirm that.

Another issue for Norway is the strengthened cooperation between NATO states on protecting critical subsea offshore installations. Chancellor Scholz and I took an initiative a few months ago, that NATO should work with the EU and NATO to secure infrastructure in the energy sector. I am happy to see that NATO has responded, there is a task force established to monitor and to follow up on critical infrastructure. I hope Vilnius will confirm that.

Norway will also join the group of countries with concrete plans to achieve the 2 % goal for defence spending of GDP by 2026, which is – for Norway with its GDP going up and down – quite an ambition, but up till now Norway has been one of the few countries with no plan, and now we have a plan, and we will confirm that in Vilnius.

The Arctic, Russia, Finland and Sweden

A few words on the Arctic. We have taken over as chair of the Arctic Council. I remember back in the 1990s; very few knew what the Arctic Council was all about. Then we had a few decades, and then I was Foreign Minister, when the Council was sought after, by countries far beyond the Arctic, not only the eight circumpolar states, but also from the other side of the globe, which highlights the importance of the Arctic for climate, environment, transport, ocean, and we believe that the Arctic Council has played and plays a very important role as an agency for developing procedures for cooperation, for transport, for environment, for critical issues in this vast areas.

Challenging, of course, with Russia. We took over the chair from Russia in a regular and orderly fashion. I appreciated that. It is very hard to maintain cooperation with Russia in the north, but I still believe that the Arctic Council has its important role to play, and an important agenda, which I reiterated for the Chinese Foreign Minister who was in Oslo some days ago. China became an observer on my watch. We still want to see the Arctic Council as a vibrant agency. The Italian president was in Oslo a few days ago, and they are also active in the Arctic, with a lot to contribute, in research and other activities. The Arctic Council is here to stay.

One consequence, I believe, of taking down activities with Russia in the north – which is necessary under the present circumstances – is that all the activities of what used to be a vital Barents cooperation with a strong Norwegian-Russian sense – has come down. I think it will be partly supplemented in the north by increased cooperation with Sweden and Finland, on industry, energy, technology, and of course within more integrated defence planning, as they become NATO members. We have over the last 15 years increased our cooperation on security, but – of course – outside the NATO context, but now with Finland as full member and soon Sweden will become – and we can use the inter-operability of NATO.

And – then we have the energy dimension, as I mentioned. But – now, I am happy to take questions.