Historical archive

Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik

Luncheon Speech to Portugal’s President Jorge Sampaio

Historical archive

Published under: Bondevik's 2nd Government

Publisher The Office of the Prime Minister

Akershus Castle, Oslo, 4 February 2004

President Sampaio and Mrs. Ritta,
Your Majesty,
Princess Märtha Louise,
Your Excellencies,
Ladies and gentlemen,


It is an honour and a pleasure for me to host this luncheon on behalf of the Norwegian Government.

The relations between Norway and Portugal are, and always have been, excellent.

They can be compared to the wind off the Portuguese coast that the Norwegian sailors in the 19 th> and 20 th> centuries always counted on. They knew that when they had passed the Bay of Biscay, the north-west wind would carry them all the way to the Canary Islands. There they would meet the trade winds, which carried them across the Atlantic Ocean. The sailors named the wind “the Portuguese”.

According to Snorre, who is our Luis Camões, the Norwegian king Sigurd Jorsalfar fought the Moors and succeeded around the year 1120 in conquering Sintra, which later became a favourite summer resort for the kings of Portugal and is today one of Portugal’s oldest towns.

Later, during the 13 th> and 14 th> centuries, the Portuguese further developed the skills that the Vikings had made use of with such success. For example, you vastly improved the construction of seagoing ships. You made them larger. You gave them bigger and better sails. You built three masts instead of one, and you greatly improved the rudder.

The Portuguese showed the world how to conquer the seas and sail to distant lands.

And today all Norwegian schoolchildren learn about Henry the Navigator. A remarkable man who organised and financed expeditions along the African coast.

Mr. President,

Our two countries have a great deal in common.

We are both seafaring nations, and we have the largest sea territories in Europe. This means that we share many common interests when it comes to maritime security, coastal surveillance and maritime environmental issues. I would like to congratulate you, Mr. President, on the choice of your country as host for the EU agency for maritime security.

Another feature we have in common is that both our countries were part of a union with a neighbouring country.

I know that 1 December – “Dia da Restauração” – is the date on which you commemorate your independence from Spain, nearly 365 years ago.

Next year it will be 100 years since we gained our independence from Sweden.

Now we both have our neighbours to the east as close friends and allies.

Mr. President,

As you know, our ties date back several hundred years, and more recently have become even closer.

In the early 19 th> century Norway exported a great deal of stockfish to Portugal, which was known as the “país do bacalhau”. Many Portuguese settled along the Norwegian coast during this period. In fact, in my own home town, Molde, some Norwegians even learned to speak Portuguese, and this was not at all uncommon along the coast of Norway at that time.

But it was the “Carnation Revolution” in 1974 that paved the way for new and closer contacts between our two countries.

I understand that you, Mr. President, had first-hand experience of the co-operation of those days.

After the revolution the newly appointed Portuguese foreign minister Mário Soares asked our foreign minister at the time, Knut Frydenlund, what Norway could do to help stabilise the fragile new democracy in Portugal.

This led to Norway financing new industrial investments in Portugal, and together we worked hard to establish the “EFTA Fund for the Industrialisation of Portugal.”

This also led to very close bilateral relations being established between our two countries, which resulted in a number of joint projects in areas such as health, fishing, shipping and forestry.

These bilateral ties have since been further developed through our partnership in the European Economic Area (EEA).

It was also during the years following the Carnation Revolution that people from former Portuguese colonies were allowed to move to Portugal. I know that nearly one million people came to Portugal during that period!

The integration of these men, women and children into Portuguese society was a remarkable achievement. They have more recently been followed by a large number of citizens from the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, who have sought refuge and a new future in your country.

I must say that I have the greatest respect and admiration for what the Portuguese people have accomplished.

And I know that we in Norway have a great deal to learn from you and from your experience of integrating and accommodating people of different origins, cultures and religions.

Mr. President,

What binds our countries and peoples together are the values, ideas and goals we share.

In our meeting yesterday, I was pleased to note that we also have very similar views on a number of European and international issues.

We both agreed on the need to further strengthen the United Nations. The challenges of today must be met by multilateral efforts.

Both our countries have a strong commitment to NATO, and we agreed that we would like to see the Alliance further adapted to the new tasks and challenges.

We also agreed that the threat of terrorism cannot be met by military means alone. We need a broad and long-term strategy, that also take into account the underlying causes of terrorism.

Mr. President,

Today, some 30 Norwegian companies, both large and small, have invested in Portugal, and with the promising signs in the global economy, I am confident that more will follow. There is also a great potential for expansion in our trade.

Portuguese is a world language and Norwegians are now showing a keener interest in learning it. Many of them are among the growing number of Norwegians visiting Portugal on holiday. Last year a Norwegian air carrier established direct flights to the Algarve, and later this week direct flights will begin from Oslo to Lisbon.

I have had the pleasure of visiting your country on many occasions in the last couple of years. Many times my wife and I spent our holiday on the beautiful island of Madeira. We very much enjoyed our walks – or “passeios nas levadas” – in the fantastic mountains on the island.

Ladies and gentlemen, I would now like to ask you all to join me in a toast to His Excellency the President of Portugal, Dr. Jorge Sampaio, and to Mrs. Maria José Ritta, and to the prosperity and well-being of the people of Portugal.

Sr. Presidente, à prosperidade e o bem do povo português! Saúde!