Historical archive


Historical archive

Published under: Solberg's Government

Publisher: The Office of the Prime Minister

Speech by Prime Minister Erna Solberg at the Körberstiftung in Berlin, 16 October 2018.

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Ladies and gentlemen,          

Thank you for the invitation to speak here today.

It is a great pleasure to be here in Berlin.

Among friends.

Norway and Germany are close allies.

We are united in our defence of fundamental values.       

And we have close cultural and historical ties.

Last year I visited Hamburg for the G20 summit.

A city that once was a member of the powerful Hanseatic League.

The League’s influence extended all the way to Norway and to my hometown of Bergen.

In fact, it left a lasting imprint on Bergen’s architecture, language and culture.

But more importantly, the League connected Norway to a broader European market.

Then, as now, trade could not flourish without security.

And the struggle for strategic control in the Baltic Sea was a constant challenge.

The League acquired state-like military capabilities to ensure access to its markets.

It mounted armed attacks, imposed embargoes and carried out sea denial operations.

It exerted political pressure and entered into alliances.

So why am I telling you all this?

To make a broader point.

The Hanseatic era reminds us that new challenges are not as new as we might think.

That old challenges are not as outdated as we might hope.

And that fundamental values are not as resistant to change as we might wish.

To the north and the east, the waters once controlled by the Hanseatic League have once again become areas of strategic importance.

To the south, instability has taken hold of a belt stretching from the Sahel region via Syria and Iraq all the way to Afghanistan.

And in Europe, we are struggling to keep potentially divisive forces at bay.

A strong Northern Europe has an important role to play in tackling these challenges. In Europe and beyond.

One somewhat surprising development in recent years is the increasing pressure being put on fundamental values, such as

  • international law;
  • human rights;
  • free and open markets; and
  • the rule of law and democracy.

Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea is the clearest example of this.

But it is not the only one.

Even in Western democracies, we are seeing a resurgence of groups that question our fundamental values.

Values that have been vital to ensuring our prosperity, security and welfare.

In the face of these challenges, we cannot remain indifferent.

We, as a society, have a responsibility to act.

We, as politicians, have a responsibility to engage with our voters.

And win their trust.


The challenges on the international stage are no less fundamental.

That is why, for the past 70 years, Norway has built its foreign and security policy on a clear set of principles.

Principles that have stood the test of time.

Firstly, we are an Atlantic country.

The transatlantic bond and NATO’s article 5 remain the bedrock of our security.

Allies will not always agree on all issues.

But even when there are challenges, we must not forget how crucial cooperation with the US is for European security.

We count on our allies.

And our allies can count on us.

That is why Norway contributes to all of NATO’s core tasks.

That is why Norwegian troops are serving in Lithuania.

Alongside German personnel.

And that is why we are hosting Trident Juncture, the largest NATO exercise in years.

More than 8000 German soldiers have defied tough Nordic weather conditions and are currently training with other allies in Norway.

This is important to us.

We are stronger and more secure as part of NATO.

Secondly, we are Europeans.

Many aspects of our history and culture are shared with other European countries.

And we are bound together by common values.

Norway is part of the single market and the Schengen zone.

We are a dedicated partner of the EU.

And we are closely aligned with the EU in matters of foreign and security policy.

We want a Europe that is secure, free, and economically strong, and where countries take joint responsibility for shared challenges.

Thirdly, we are a Nordic country.

Our economic edge is to a large degree a result of our Nordic heritage. Of our

  • free and open economic systems;
  • inclusive labour markets;
  • generous welfare systems;
  • gender equality; and
  • highly educated population.

The Nordic countries share historical experiences and fundamental values.

Fourthly, we are an Arctic country and a neighbour of Russia.

We are continuing to take a pragmatic approach to our cooperation with Russia.

We have therefore maintained cooperation in areas such as search and rescue, fisheries management and coast guard activities.

As well as cross border cooperation and in regional organisations such as the Arctic Council.

But we have not lost sight of our values, and it is these values that make our foreign policy predictable and consistent.

Since the illegal annexation of Crimea, most of our military cooperation with Russia has been suspended and we have adopted EU’s restrictive measures.

Finally, we are a globalised country. Our economy is open.

Global commodities are a vital source of national income.

Our merchant fleet has a presence in all corners of the world.

And our sovereign wealth fund, the Government Pension Fund Global, owns about 1.3 % of listed companies worldwide.

This means that crisis and instability in other parts of the world will affect Norway in some way or other.

We rely on free and open markets and on respect for international law.

And we rely on positive developments in the global situation.

Fighting climate change, and promoting human rights and the Sustainable Development Goals are not just moral imperatives.

They are good for our security and economy as well.


These principles underpin our foreign and security policy.

But we must adapt them to the current situation and to current challenges.

Last year, my Government presented a white paper on foreign and security policy.

The basic principles of our policy remain unchanged.

But we made some important policy adjustments that are designed to enhance European security and to strengthen the transatlantic bond.

The first adjustment we made is to increase our focus on further deepening our relations with selected allies, Nordic partners and the EU.

European cooperation cannot provide a universal remedy for security threats.

But we must take greater responsibility for security.

Some would say ‘for our own security’.

I say simply ‘security’.

We do not want to see a Europe that is less engaged beyond its own neighbourhood, or that renounces its transatlantic ties.

More than ever, we need a Europe that is fully engaged on the global stage.

A Europe that uses its resources wisely.

We must spend more on defence.

We need to invest more.

And we need to invest more effectively.

Not because the US asks us to.

But because it is in our own interests.

Europe faces considerable security challenges: To the East, to the South and at home.

We must tackle these challenges together.

And we need to make sure that we have the strength and capacity to do so.

We must all do our part.

A Germany that is committed to our common security and is willing to lead is essential for the future stability of Europe.

Both Germany and Norway are increasing their defence budgets, and this is of vital importance.

Under Norway’s current Long-term Defence Plan, we will substantially increase our defence spending over the coming years.

This means that we will be well above the 20 % guideline for defence investment.

The plan allows us to make substantial investments in high-end capabilities that are deployable and interoperable.

With our next Long-term Defence Plan, we plan to further increase our defence spending towards the 2 % target.

A stronger Europe also requires more cooperation between NATO and the EU.

We need to make use of the combined power of the tools they have at their disposal.

And we must avoid duplicating defence and security structures.

Norway is cultivating closer cooperation with selected allies as well as its Nordic partners.

Germany is one of the allies with which we have deepened our defence cooperation over time.

Our common purchase and lifetime management of new submarines produced in Germany will further strengthen our partnership.

In the years ahead, we wish to take an even more strategic approach to this cooperation.

The North Atlantic and the Baltic Sea are re-emerging as areas of considerable strategic importance.

NATO needs credible strategies to deal with potential threats in these areas.

The Alliance must retain its ability to reinforce allies in the event of a crisis.

Norway has a significant role to play in this context.

We are NATO’s eyes and ears in the north.

We share our insight with allies, thereby enhancing NATO’s collective situational awareness.

NATO’s strength depends among other things on its ability to adapt.

The decisions made at the latest NATO summit to establish new logistics and maritime commands are an important milestone.

Situational awareness is also crucial in the Baltic Sea.

In this area, cooperation with partners can add value.

The countries in the Baltic Sea region have different security affiliations.

As a result, the region can provide an interesting testing ground for forms of practical cooperation that could be developed further at NATO or EU level.

Our second policy adjustment has been to step up our efforts to stabilise areas close to European territory.

Together with our European partners.

Turmoil in the belt stretching from the Sahel region to Afghanistan has given rise to threats that also affect Europe.

It may also destabilise areas further south.

Weak governance and porous borders have enabled terrorist groups and organised criminal networks to operate more or less freely.

Instability also shapes the European political discourse.

Migration has become a contentious issue in many countries.

It is fuelling populism and the result could be a weaker and more polarised Europe.

It is therefore vital that we deal effectively with instability in other parts of the world.

We must address the root causes of instability and violent extremism.

We have developed a broad strategic framework for our efforts in areas and regions affected by conflict and fragility.

This does not simply focus on aid, but also on   

  • business development;
  • institutional capacity-building;
  • military contributions; and
  • support for civil society.

Our humanitarian assistance comes in addition to these efforts. 

But, achieving stabilisation alone will not be enough.

We need to succeed in the fight against poverty.

To secure good health services and education for more people.

And to protect the environment.

The UN Sustainable Development Goals are the roadmap to the world we want.

They recognise that all countries must come together to build a peaceful and more just world.

Norway remains more committed than ever to pursuing a strong engagement for development across the globe.

But we must adapt our methods.

Aid was once the most important source of income for some developing countries.

Today, domestic resources and foreign investments matter more.

That is why we need efforts such as the ‘Compact with Africa’ initiative, which Germany launched at the G20 summit in Hamburg last year.

Ladies and gentlemen,

As a politician, I consider ‘trust’ to be one of the most important words I know.  

Trust between people enables us to maintain generous welfare schemes.

Trust is essential when it comes to integrating migrants into our societies.

And where there is trust between citizens and politicians, populism can be kept at bay.

But trust also plays a significant role in international relations.

Where there is trust, trade is possible.

Where there is trust, countries are more secure.

Where there is trust, common challenges are easier to tackle.

Centuries ago, trust played an important role in the Hanseatic trade.

Later, in our lifetime, trust helped to create a secure, stable and prosperous Europe

When Norway seeks partners, we look for countries that we can trust.

Countries that share our values.

Countries that have similar agendas.

Germany is one such partner and friend.

But we also need to build trust in our relations with countries that do not share our values.

By maintaining an open dialogue with these countries, we will be better prepared for the day when they return to compliance with international law.

We should never give up that ambition.

European history has shown us how rapid the transition from instability to stability can be.

I am confident that Europe will be able to cope with today’s security challenges.

To do so, we will need a strong and engaged Northern Europe.

And I know that we can count on Germany.

Thank you.