Speech by State Secretary Dilek Ayhan, 26 February 2014
*Sjekkes mot fremføring*
Your Royal Highness!
Ladies and Gentlemen!
First of all, I wish to congratulate our Russian friends in hosting successful Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. An event well organized and exemplary to the Olympic values of competition and sportmansship.
This visit to the St. Petersburg region, however, makes it clear that Norway and Russia have more in common other than being two passionate winter sport nations.
Our relationship has a solid foundation and our partnership is broadly based:
- There have always been peaceful and constructive relations between our peoples across our common border in the north.
- There is close contact on parliamentary, ministerial, and regional levels.
- Approximately 100 Norwegian companies are -present in the Russian market.
- And, Russia and Norway trade and cooperate in seafood, minerals, oil and gas and maritime equipment.
But, at the same time, I see a large, yet untapped, potential for more economic cooperation.
The Russian market, with 140 million potential consumers, speaks for itself.
Therefore, our goal should be to create better conditions for making business and investments across our borders – and I am sure that this visit and seminar will contribute in that direction.
The Norwegian government puts great emphasis on maintaining and developing close relations with Russia. In the sphere of economic relations, there is a lot going on.
Only yesterday, there was a meeting of the Russian-Norwegian working group on regional and cross border cooperation, headed by deputy ministers Ivanova and Lae Solberg.
Later this spring, minister of trade and industry, Monica Mæland, will travel to Moscow for the 17th meeting of the Norwegian-Russian intergovernmental commission on economic cooperation.
Let me also remind you that it will be a yet anotheropportunity to gather at the fourth Norwegian – Russian business forum in Moscow the 8th of April.
Since the first business forum was held during Medvedev’s visit to Norway in 2010 – these forums have proven useful as meeting arenas for our companies.
But the current highlight is of course the ongoing visit of his royal highness crown prince Haakon.
During his impressive and tight programme, his royal highness will spend a day and a half in beautiful St. Petersburg and Leningrad region highlighting the broad spectre of ongoing cooperation between Norway and Russia, not least within the sphere of business.
The fact that we are more than 300 business people gathered here today proves that this is of great interest. It is my hope that this visit will lead to even more business between our two countries.
I certainly believe there is a lot of good examples to build on, and a lot of potential. I look forward to hearing from you tonight, at the seafood reception, how this day proceeded.
So, for now, thank you for your attention and may the rest of the day be as productive as it has been so far!
I wish the Norwegian-Russian Chamber of Commerce, INTSOK and Innovation Norway Tourism the best of luck with their seminars today.