Historical archive

Speeches and statements by former Minister of Foreign Affairs Børge Brende

Foreign policy address to the Storting - March 2014

Historical archive

Published under: Solberg's Government

Publisher: Ministry of Foreign Affairs

"Let me be quite clear about what we are now witnessing: for the first time since the Second World War, a European state has forcibly annexed part of a neighbouring country", said Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Børge Brende, in his address to the Storting.

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Mr President,

Today, in the heart of Europe, we are confronted with serious violations of international law and a form of power politics that belongs to another era.

Let me be quite clear about what we are now witnessing: for the first time since the Second World War, a European state has forcibly annexed part of a neighbouring country.

A new phase in Russia’s relations with the rest of the world has begun.

At a ceremony at the Kremlin last week, the Russian President signed a treaty incorporating Crimea and the city of Sevastopol into the Russian Federation. This was after Russia had secured full military control over the Ukrainian peninsula and following a referendum that was in violation of both Ukrainian and international law.

Like our allies and partners in Nato and the EU, Norway has condemned Russia’s actions.  

Under international law, no state has the right to intervene in the affairs of another state, through the use of armed force, coercion or any other form of unwarranted interference. This principle of non-intervention applies regardless of whether a state intervenes itself or provides support to local actors.

Russia has justified its actions by the need to protect Russian speakers outside its borders. It has also cited historical rights. 

There are no independent reports of abuse of Russian-speaking minorities in Crimea or in eastern Ukraine. If Russia really believes that such abuse is widespread, it should have made use of the mechanisms that have been established to deal with such situations, within the framework of the UN, the Council of Europe and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). Russia has not done this.  

The situation of minorities is problematic in many countries, including Ukraine. The Ukrainian authorities have a responsibility to address this.

I raised this issue with Ukraine’s interim president when the Finnish foreign minister and I visited Kiev recently.

The UN Charter prohibits the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state. It also prohibits interference in the internal affairs of another state. We need to be clear here. The situation in Ukraine has not justified any departure from these two points.  

Over the past few weeks, the international community has sought to engage Russia in a dialogue aimed at finding a peaceful resolution to the conflict. It has also been clearly communicated to Russia that actions that are in violation of international law will have consequences.  

Today, Russia is isolated. This was confirmed when the UN Security Council discussed the crisis in Ukraine. Unfortunately, the Russian authorities have not changed course.   

There are still grounds for concern over what Russia’s approach to Ukraine will be in the time ahead. That is why the EU, the US and a number of other countries have now adopted further restrictive measures.  

Norway has aligned itself with the EU by adopting comparable measures and is following up relevant Nato decisions. We are now in the midst of a crisis, and it is crucial that we show solidarity with our allies in Nato and coordinate our response with our partners in the EU.

Nato has emphasised the need to seek a political solution and at the same time has taken steps to reassure allies that feel their security is threatened. Nato is also looking at ways of strengthening cooperation with Ukraine.

There must be no doubt as to our position on the illegal annexation by a large country of parts of a smaller country’s territory.  

This crisis concerns us all; it is not a bilateral issue between Norway and Russia. It is in Norway’s interests to continue to cooperate with Russia to address challenges that can only be solved if we work together, for instance in the fields of natural resource management, environmental protection and economic development. Norway is seeking to maintain the extensive contact already established between our two peoples, which has led to increasingly open borders and greater mutual understanding – not least in the north. We will continue to be a predictable neighbour, and our bilateral policy will continue to be based on the principles of international law.    

Mr President,

When a major power challenges the established world order, we must come together to protect our common values. We must learn from the lessons of the 20th century – not only from its catastrophes, but also from its hard-earned achievements. Today, more than ever, ours is a world is of interdependence and shared vulnerability. 

In the long run, no state that disregards international law can safeguard the welfare of its own citizens or secure its long-term interests. That is why states today formulate their foreign policy and promote their interests on the basis of international cooperation and coordination. 

In today’s globalised and closely interconnected world, more and more states are adopting a win-win approach to foreign policy. They realise that everyone benefits from increased trade and prosperity. Some, however, still cling to their view of international politics as a zero-sum game. But one country’s gain is not necessarily another country’s loss.  As a rule, the opposite is true.

The establishment of Nato, like that of the UN, was indispensable in building the multilateral architecture that was put in place after the Second World War.

Nato has played an important role in securing peace and freedom in Europe.

The most successful alliance in history will continue to be the cornerstone of our security policy. Relations between the US and Norway are closer than ever, and the US remains our most important ally.

Once again, we have been reminded of the need to ensure that our armed forces are strong and robust. Only a few countries in Nato have increased their defence budget. Norway is one of them. Norway will continue to contribute to maintaining Nato’s defence capability and to further strengthening its political influence. At the Nato summit in Wales in September we will work together to make the Alliance better equipped to meet the challenges of the future.   

Nato has displayed an impressive ability to adapt to a shifting security landscape. At the same time, its core functions remain unchanged.  At the end of the day, its purpose is to safeguard the security of the populations in its member states and to promote stability in its surrounding areas. 

In recent years, the Nordic countries have strengthened their foreign and defence policy cooperation. The joint air-defence training event (Iceland Air Meet 2014) in Iceland in February was a milestone in this respect and is being highlighted by the Alliance as an example of excellent cooperation.  

For Norway, Nato membership has been essential for developing good neighbourly relations with Russia. It has given added weight to our own efforts and capacity and thus enhanced stability in the north. Russia has shared a border with Nato in the north since 1949. This is Russia’s most peaceful border.  

Our security policy challenges are becoming increasingly complex and unpredictable. The attack on the In Amenas gas production facility in Algeria was a tragic reminder of the links between weak states, crime, terrorism and religious extremism. That is why we are now beginning to draw up an overview of these threats and draft proposals as to how we can meet them. The challenges posed by piracy and cyber threats will be included in this work.

Mr President,

The international legal order is an invisible yet essential framework, which we often take for granted. It is this system, however, that provides predictability, and gives us confidence in our ability to develop solutions to future challenges.

We do not reflect on this set of international rules often enough. However, these rules are what makes it possible to deal successfully with issues relating to the use of offshore resources, environmental protection, air transport, trade, digital commerce, and complex financial and investment operations, as well as transnational law enforcement in the face of international terrorist threats.

We adhere to common rules designed to meet collective challenges that individual states are otherwise powerless to address. We adhere to common rules not only because it is the right thing to do, but also because it is in our own interests. This is true not only for small and medium-sized countries, but also for large countries.

We must protect the values and the world order we believe in. It is built on the principle that we can best secure the welfare of our citizens by cooperating and trading with other countries, and by basing interaction between states on UN principles and binding international law.

Mr President,

The level of prosperity we have achieved in Norway would not have been possible without a well-functioning international legal order and system of global trade.

According to the World Trade Organization (WTO), the real value of world trade has increased eightfold since 1970.  

This level of growth is unprecedented. It has reinforced the interdependence of nations and our common destiny. Our relations with other countries have become at least eight times more important during the same period.  

The international legal order and robust multilateral systems can help us to withstand both acute and more protracted crises. We must be flexible enough to adapt these systems to a changing world.

Just look at the global economic crisis that followed the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers in 2008. The financial markets were close to collapse. The backbone of the global economy was hit. Global trade fell by 12 %. Even so, the financial crisis was a recession, not a depression like that of the 1930s, when the value of world trade plummeted by 50 % in just a few years.   

We were able to avoid a new depression because countries continued to trade with each other. We also reached agreement on a number of unconventional measures to stimulate both fiscal and monetary policy. The international trading system passed the test and proved to be an effective bulwark against increased protectionism and nationalism. 

A succcessful Doha Round will be a significant contribution to securing global economic growth in the years ahead. This growth is essential for combating poverty and for creating the 600 million new jobs the International Labour Organization (ILO) has said need to be in place before 2020.  

We must all do what we can to ensure that the Doha Round reaches a successful conclusion. Norway, too, must be willing to give something to achieve this goal.

This is precisely why the Government is now stepping up its efforts to promote global trade.  

We will intensify our efforts to secure support for a global trade agreement.

The agreement reached at the WTO Ministerial Conference in Bali opens up the possibility of resuming negotiations on the most difficult issues in the Doha Round. In the light of this, the Government has begun drafting a white paper on globalisation and free trade policy.  

​​​​​Globalisation, which has brought increased trade and technological progress, has reduced the gap between the richer and poorer parts of the world. But in many countries this gap has widened. Salaries for some segments of the middle class have stood still. Inclusive growth that results in job creation and benefits all levels of society is crucial to the legitimacy of our economic system. 

Growth that is not inclusive increases the risk of social unrest, while undermining social mobility. Norway provides a high level of aid aimed at reducing social and economic disparities worldwide. The Government’s increased focus on education is also important in this context. In Europe, Norway is providing some NOK 3 billion per year in funding through the EEA and Norway Grants in the period 2009–14. In Greece, a portion of the EEA and Norway Grants has been set aside for measures to support families affected by the economic crisis.  

Mr President,

The Government intends to give greater priority to economic diplomacy. The promotion of Norwegian business interests will continue to be one of the key tasks of the Foreign Service.  

There are currently about 250 000 employees working in Norwegian companies abroad. That is equivalent to the total number of people employed in Norway’s mainland industry. In Africa alone, the number of people employed by Norwegian companies has tripled in the course of three years.  

Companies that grow abroad, grow at home as well. It is not necessarily the case that companies that establish operations abroad, close down their domestic activities. More often, the opposite is true. 

Today, the world’s five largest economies are the US, China, Japan, Germany and France. In ten years’ time, India and Brazil will probably have overtaken Germany and France. Seven of the ten fastest growing economies last year were in Africa.

Global growth, and in particular the growth in global demand, is primarily being seen in markets that are more complex than those of our traditional trading partners. Extra effort on the part of the Foreign Service will be required to address this.  

For this reason, the Government intends to step up the pace of its efforts to promote Norway’s business interests internationally.  

Norway will also strengthen its diplomatic presence in these emerging economies.

The Foreign Service will adopt a strategic, more targeted and coherent approach to promoting Norwegian business interests. Support provided by Norwegian agencies and government bodies will be better tailored to the needs of the business sector. The activities of Innovation Norway at home must be reflected in the work done at the missions.  

We are also strengthening activities relating to the business sector at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs by bringing together business promotion, economic diplomacy, energy and development policy under one department.

In order to ensure our competitiveness, Norwegian companies must succeed not only in new markets, but also in the markets that are most important to us.  

More than 70 % of our foreign trade is with EU countries.  We are bound together by trade, culture, history and our values – and this will continue to be the case for the foreseeable future.  

Our relations with the EU – and the EEA Agreement – are of fundamental importance, and this is an area where the boundaries between domestic and foreign policy are often blurred.   

Norwegian companies want and need a common European legal framework that ensures equal conditions for all. We need be involved at an earlier stage of the EU’s legislative process and play a more active role in the development of EU policy and legislation.  

We need to exploit the opportunities that will arise when Europe returns to economic growth, both with a view to promoting trade and business, and in the fields of culture, tourism, education and research.  

We must coordinate our efforts vis-à-vis the EU in order to best safeguard the interests of Norwegian citizens, companies and municipalities. That is why the Government has created a separate ministerial post with responsibility for EEA and EU affairs. Minister Vidar Helgesen and I work closely together on matters regarding Norway’s relations with Europe.

Our participation in the Schengen cooperation means that the Mediterranean Sea is as much our external border as the Skagerrak. Europe’s neighbourhood is our neighbourhood. It is in our interests that the countries of the Middle East and North Africa are stable and offer greater economic opportunities to their inhabitants. The Government has taken steps to ensure that Norway plays an active role in the work of the EU’s Task Force for the Mediterranean, whose aims include preventing tragedies such as the one we saw off the island of Lampedusa last autumn.     

Aid provided by Norway is designed to promote stability, democracy, human rights and inclusive economic development in North Africa and the Sahel region. In this way development policy, foreign policy and European policy can all pull together in the same direction, and we take on our share of a common European responsibility. 

Minister Helgesen will give an address to the Storting on EU and EEA matters at the end of May.  

Mr President,

The foundation for a coherent policy for the High North was set out by the Bondevik II Government in the white paper Opportunities and Challenges in the North (Report No. 30 (2004–2005) to the Storting). The policy was then further developed by the Stoltenberg II Government. We are now taking it another step forward.

At a time when global power is shifting towards the east and the south, more and more countries are turning their gaze to the north. Over the past year, India, Japan, China, Singapore, South Korea, Italy and in principle also the EU have been admitted as observers to the Arctic Council. Norway is seeking to further develop and clarify the role of the observers to the Council. 

Norway cooperates closely with the chair of the Arctic Council and will also seek to develop close cooperation with the US during its chairmanship in 2015–17. We will work to ensure sustainable management of the environment and resources in the north, to enhance knowledge of the changes that are taking place in the Arctic, and to promote business activity.

The Law of the Sea clearly demonstrates that legal frameworks are both good for international stability and in our economic interests. The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea clarifies questions relating to the coastal states’ rights and duties. Together with the other Arctic coastal states, Norway considers it important to be at the forefront of developments and to take responsibility for ensuring that new activities in the north take place within a stable and predictable framework.     

Domestic policy and foreign policy converge in the High North. Norway aims to be a leader in the field of knowledge about the High North. We must improve the infrastructure. We are strengthening our search and rescue capabilities and our pollution preparedness and response. And we must ensure that our planning processes are efficient and predictable so that good business projects can be realised, with due regard for the consultation procedures that have been established to safeguard the interests of the Sami people.

Mr President,

Since the Second World War, we have witnessed a strengthening of global and European human rights through the development of institutions that promote human dignity, democracy, openness and participation.  

However, human rights are under increasing pressure in a number of countries. Not only are we seeing brutal attacks on civilians in Syria and in other conflict areas; we are also witnessing breaches of the freedoms of expression, assembly and association and discrimination against religious and sexual minorities in many countries.

We cannot take the protection of human rights for granted. Defending human rights is an essential component of our foreign policy. We must defend these rights by further developing strategic alliances across regions and with civil societies. We need to adapt our foreign policy in order to respond to the growing threats to human rights.

That is why the Government has decided to present a white paper on the increased significance of human rights for our foreign and development policy.  It is some 15 years since a white paper on this topic was presented to the Storting.

We will help strengthen the right of women to participate in and influence political processes and society, and we will combat discrimination in legislation and in practice.

We will continue our efforts to abolish the death penalty. This will require a long-term approach and a focus on achieving concrete results.

We can never accept relativism when it comes to human rights. Authorities must not be allowed to evade human rights obligations by referring to traditional values, national sovereignty or the principle of non-intervention. This is in violation of resolutions adopted both in the UN and in various regional forums.

Human rights are hard-won rights. The key UN conventions on human rights are widely accepted and have been ratified by an overwhelming majority of the world’s countries.

Protection of human rights is one of the three main pillars of the UN. It is therefore unacceptable that the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) receives only 3 % of the total UN budget. The Government intends to increase the amount of support Norway provides to the OHCHR.  We will start negotiations on our contribution for a new three-year period this spring.

We also have a responsibility to fulfil our own obligations. In April I will be attending the review of the human rights situation in Norway at the UN Human Rights Council, and I am pleased that we are well on our way to establishing a new national human rights institution.

Mr President,

We are living in a time of geopolitical change. Economic growth in other parts of the world is causing a significant shift in global power. Economic and political influence is shifting towards the south and the east.  

In 1980, the economy of the US was ten times the size of China’s. Some thirty years later, it is “only” twice as large. The financial crisis reinforced this trend. While China’s economy has grown by 50 %, most of Europe has stood still. 

This shift in global power shows that there is a connection between economic growth and political influence, with some countries gaining influence and others lagging behind.

China is expected to overtake the US as the world’s largest economy sometime between 2020 and 2030. Although economic power brings with it increased political influence, I would caution against believing that we now have a completely new world order. 

The most important precondition for preserving the existing world order is not to maintain the existing balance of power, but to ensure that all countries comply with international law and participate in established structures for cooperation.

The US will remain the most influential country in the world for a long time. No other country has the same political, economic, military, technological and scientific power. The US also has a network of allies and partners bound together by shared values and history.

There is little doubt that two countries will stand out in terms of political, economic and military power; those two countries are the US and China.  However, that does not mean that we are returning to the zero-sum game between two superpowers that we saw during the Cold War.  

We need to don new glasses if we are to interpret the new world map correctly. The interdependence of the US and China will prevent a re-emergence of the bipolar world order most of us grew up with. The US and China are competitors, but neither can succeed if the other fails. Increased trade and globalisation have brought them together in a win-win relationship. 

Just as China’s prosperity depends on exports to western markets, the world economy would stagnate without economic growth in China. The overall impression of a world with two centres of power is further balanced by the emergence of other powers.

In the light of these shifts in the balance of power, the Government will strengthen Norway’s diplomatic presence in and cooperation with the emerging economies, not only in Asia, but in Africa and Latin America as well.

We will strengthen our economic relations, enter into trade agreements and support Norwegian companies that wish to do business in these regions. We are establishing closer political ties with a number of key countries and with regional organisations, such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the African Union. We support the emergence of regional mechanisms for cooperation and conflict resolution in areas where these structures are weak.

We cannot take it for granted that emerging economies share all our political views. It is our duty, therefore, to uphold established rules of cooperation and hard-won universal human rights. We must work to ensure that emerging powers find their place in the existing world order, rather than creating a new one.

Mr President,

Norway is seeking to develop a close and constructive relationship with China. The Government attaches considerable importance to restoring political dialogue with China. Resuming cooperation in a wide range of areas is in the interest of both countries.

We must acknowledge that there are no easy solutions here. It may still take some time to normalise relations.

Mr President,

The Government’s development and foreign policy is designed to promote democratisation, human rights and measures that can lift people out of poverty. We know that trade, investment and business development create growth and lasting change. That is why we are placing increased emphasis on results and on cooperation with the business sector. Without small and medium-sized enterprises in a strong private sector, there will be no growth. Developing countries themselves must take the necessary steps that will allow them to become middle-income countries.

Norwegian aid is currently spread over 112 countries and a number of thematic areas. A more targeted approach will make our efforts more effective. The OECD also pointed this out in its review of Norwegian development cooperation. A first step in that direction will be made in next year’s budget.

Our overall objective is to help eradicate all extreme poverty. More than one billion people have to manage on less than USD 1.25 a day. However, for the first time in history it is possible to envision a world without extreme poverty.

The proportion of people living in extreme poverty was halved between 1990 and 2010. During the same period, there has been enormous population growth. The world’s population has increased by 1.7 billion people since 1990. In other words, we have managed to reduce poverty even while the world’s population has grown dramatically.

According to the UN, the world’s population will have risen to nearly 10 billion by 2050. In the next 15 years, the demand for food, water and energy will increase by 35, 40 and 50 %, respectively.

With 780 million people now lacking access to clean water; a third of the world’s population lacking access to basic sanitation; and 1.2 billion people lacking access to electricity – we share a responsibility to find good solutions.

Lasting poverty reduction requires inclusive economic growth, increased trade, innovation and entrepreneurship – as well as making use of the vast opportunities offered by new technology. We will do our part to ensure that the international community achieves the ambitious goals it has set.

When President Obama addressed the parliament of Ghana, he spoke of his father, who grew up herding goats in a village in Kenya. When Barack Obama was born, Kenya’s economy was larger than that of South Korea. Today, South Korea’s economy is 27 times the size of Kenya’s. Poor governance, war and conflict, and inadequate health services and education have impeded Africa’s development for far too long.

Education is essential for development. Poverty in low-income countries could be reduced by 12 % if all children could read and write. Today, more than 50 million children in the world do not attend school. This is a serious obstacle to development.

Norway will take a global leadership role in promoting education. We will give priority to education for girls. Girls who receive an education marry later, have children later, have a better chance of getting a job, and have better health – as do their children.

The Government will present a white paper to the Storting outlining the concrete measures it intends to take to strengthen global education.

The Prime Minister’s role in the UN Secretary-General’s Millennium Development Goals (MDG) Advocacy Group is important. The strength of the MDGs lies in the fact that the results are measurable and show that efforts are paying off. Now we are actively engaged in the process of defining new, ambitious goals for the post-2015 development agenda.  Our priorities are education, health, energy, gender equality and good governance.

Comprehensive efforts are being made internationally to supply modern energy to the world’s population and to combat energy poverty.

Norway will play a leading role in efforts to secure Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL). Sustainable energy is needed to meet the increasing demand for energy and to slow the rise in global temperatures.

Three objectives are high on the agenda: increased access to energy, better energy efficiency, and a greater share of renewable energy.

Binding cooperation is in the interest of all countries, and not only because of the increased trade it yields. It is also essential for addressing problems that transcend national borders, such as climate change and global health challenges. 

Climate change has serious implications for health, food production and access to clean water, particularly among the poor and the vulnerable.

Negotiations in advance of the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris in 2015 are now entering a decisive phase. The world needs a new, ambitious climate agreement that applies to all countries and that can help the most vulnerable countries become more resilient to climate change.

If we are to achieve the two-degree target, we must reverse global emissions trends. Climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction are needed to reduce the risks of disease, conflict and major economic losses. Norway will work to increase international climate change financing – from public, private and innovative financing sources. We will help make financing more effective and better tailored to the needs of developing countries. The cost of acting now will be far less than the cost of “undoing” the effects of climate change later.

Mr President,

Acute crises often dominate the foreign policy debate. In February, I gave an address to the Storting on the situation in Syria and South Sudan.

Wars and conflicts can set back a country’s development by several decades. Nowhere is this more evident than in Syria.

Syria’s civil war has cost 135 000 people their lives – 10 000 of them children. Some 9.3 million Syrians are in need of food, medicine and health services. Half of them are children. The need for humanitarian access is acute.

The civilian population is suffering as a result of the unyielding stance of the parties involved and the inability of the international community to find a political solution. The political negotiations led by Lakhdar Brahimi ended in deadlock. The regime is making military advances, and the situation on the ground is complicated. The conflict is becoming increasingly regionalised. There is every indication that the crisis in Syria will continue for a long time.  

Norway is the sixth largest humanitarian donor to Syria and its neighbouring countries. The Government will continue Norway’s humanitarian efforts. We will work to ensure a resumption of the political negotiations.

Norway is cooperating closely with Denmark in the mission to remove and destroy Syria’s chemical weapons. After last Friday’s shipment, we now estimate that 49 % of the chemicals have been removed from Syria. The remainder of the chemicals must be transported out of the country as a matter of urgency. We must prevent Assad from being able to use chemical weapons, and it is vital too that we prevent these weapons from falling into the wrong hands.

Norway has a strong engagement in the Middle East. In accordance with the wishes of those involved, we will continue to chair the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC) for assistance to the Palestinians.

Negotiations between Israel and the PLO are in a critical phase. President Obama has held talks with Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas, but the distance between the parties remains great.

We support the US in its efforts. A two-state solution must be put in place very soon.

The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction is one of the greatest threats to our security.

As I speak, the world’s leaders are meeting in The Hague for the Nuclear Security Summit. Prime Minister Solberg will emphasise the need to strengthen the international legal framework relating to nuclear security, the proliferation of nuclear material, and nuclear terrorism.

The nuclear programmes of North Korea and Iran continue to give rise to the greatest concern. The provisional agreement in November 2013 between Iran and the EU, China, Russia and the US was a step in the right direction.

We expect Iran to continue to meet its commitments. Further negotiations must lead to a long-term, comprehensive agreement which guarantees that Iran’s nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes only.

Final clarification of the nature of Iran’s nuclear programmes would pave the way for a substantial shift in political and economic relations between Iran and the international community.

Afghanistan is approaching a decisive phase in its development. It is important that the elections on 5 April are conducted in a credible manner. Security will be a challenge.

Norway will stand by its commitment to provide civil assistance, and we will place clear demands on the recipients.

The transfer of security responsibility from Nato to the Afghans has gone according to plan. The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) now has only a supporting role. Norway, like the other Nato countries, will now assess whether, and if so how, we can contribute further.

The Minister of Defence and I have requested the Presidium of the Storting for the opportunity to hold an address on Afghanistan in June.

Mr President,

Norway has an open economy with extensive foreign trade. Our energy and our expertise are in demand, and our strong financial position raises our profile internationally. We are actively engaged in multilateral efforts.

Norway will continue to work for peace and reconciliation in situations where we are well placed to do so and where the parties to the conflict wish us to be involved.

Our primary task is to promote Norwegian interests. Our adherence to a sound set of values lends credibility to our interest-based policies. Respect for international law, human rights, and binding cooperation with others are the basis for our foreign policy.

The Government is maintaining Norway’s lasting commitment to a strong, more effective UN. Not because the UN is perfect, but because there is no real alternative. We know the price civilians will pay if the UN does not stand united and assume responsibility.

In 1814, our founding fathers at Eidsvoll adopted certain principles that would be essential for the future governing of our country.

The three most important principles can be seen in the main divisions of the Constitution today: the sovereignty of the people, the separation of powers, and the basic rights of citizens.

It is in this tradition that we place democracy, good governance and human rights high on our foreign policy agenda.

These are the basic values on which we build our international engagement.

Our security is safeguarded through the values we share with Europe and the US, and that is why we maintain a robust national defence in alliance with Nato.

Our economy is strengthened by freer world trade, and that is why we promote inclusive, sustainable growth that creates jobs both at home and abroad.

Our future is dependent on a strong international legal order, and that is why we support the principles of international law, the UN and the multilateral system, and react when rules are violated.

We will meet the challenges, grasp the opportunities and set clear priorities for our efforts in a changing world.

We are maintaining the best traditions of Norwegian foreign policy and setting new, ambitious goals to strengthen growth and well-being.