Historisk arkiv

Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik

Speech to Norway Caucus

Historisk arkiv

Publisert under: Regjeringen Bondevik II

Utgiver: Statsministerens kontor

US Congress, Washington DC, 4 December 2001

Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik

Speech to Norway Caucus

The United States’ Congress, Washington DC, 4 December 2001

Members of Congress, Dr. Wiesel, Ladies and Gentlemen,

From what I have heard the past few weeks, it is no easier to pass a budget in the United States than it is in Norway. I realize this may put me in a minority in this room, but let me just say how glad I am that all of you are still here in Washington!

It means a great deal to me to be among so many friends of Norway in this distinguished chamber.

I am pleased and proud to learn that so many of you have taken an interest in U.S.-Norway relations. I would like to express my particular appreciation to the ”Founding Fathers” of the Norway Caucuses who are here today: Senator Kent Conrad of North Dakota and Congressman Martin Olav Sabo of Minnesota.

The Caucuses have strengthened ties between the lawmakers in our two countries, and they have added an important dimension to a relationship built on decades of political, economic and security cooperation.

At few other points in history, however, have the relations between our two countries been closer than after the shocking events of September 11 th>.

As Norwegians watched television in disbelief, learning about the tragedies in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania, we felt anger, outrage and fear.

Outside the American Embassy in Oslo, crowds gathered in mourning.

They left flowers, candles and notes, creating a memorial to the thousands gone. People talked softly, shook their heads, hugged each other, slowly realizing that something had changed forever.

As the first few days passed, shock gave way to sorrow, sorrow to sympathy, and sympathy to solidarity.

The sorrow over lives lost and a world gone, the sympathy for families bereaved and leaders faced with formidable tasks.

All of this gave birth to a new solidarity, a new unity, in Norway as in so many other countries.

The terrorists attacked an entire world, and as we have seen over the past twelve weeks, the entire world now fights back.

We pay tribute to the men and women of the United States military who are risking their lives in a fight for all of us.

In Norway, there has not been much question of whether we would participate in what your President has called ”the fight of all who believe in tolerance and freedom” - only of how.

Some contributions have been immediate, such as Norwegian AWACS personnel taking part in the NATO operation to secure American skies, or the dispatch of Norwegian humanitarian aid to Afghan refugees.

Additional contributions were announced by the Norwegian government just a few days ago, reaffirming Norway’s commitment to sharing the military burden in the campaign against terrorism.

Among the resources Norway has offered are fighter aircraft, transport helicopters and – maybe not unexpectedly – specialists in winter operations.

These contributions are now the subject of direct military-to-military discussions at the U.S. Central Command in Tampa, Florida.

However, the campaign against terrorism will be lengthy and it will be conducted not only with military might, but also by political and legal means.

The immediate goals of the campaign are clear to all of us.

However, the long-term campaign must also address the fundamental problems that may give rise to terrorist activity, such as poverty, fanaticism and intolerance.

We need to ask ourselves how the seeds of terrorism are cultivated into evil.

We need to ask ourselves how it is that religion, a source of so much good in the world, can be used to justify acts of horror.

We need to identify the environment where fanaticism is nurtured. And together, we need to build greater tolerance, the only moral response to a spiral of violence and hatred that threatens humanity itself.

In search of answers to some of these questions, the Norwegian Government has decided to call a summit level conference in Oslo next year.

We are honored to have as the co-chair of this conference a man who has dedicated his entire life to fighting hate and building tolerance in the world: Dr. Elie Wiesel.

Dr. Wiesel, a Holocaust survivor, has spent a lifetime defending human rights and peace throughout the world.

He has published more than forty books, and been awarded the Congressional Gold Medal of Achievement, the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Nobel Peace Prize.

He is the Founding Chairman of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council, and Founding President of the Paris-based Universal Academy of Cultures.

We were fortunate to have Dr. Wiesel co-chair a conference in Oslo in 1990, ”The Anatomy of Hate”, where world leaders met to address issues of fanaticism and hatred, and we look forward to welcoming him to Oslo once again.

Next year’s summit conference, which we aim to hold in November, will address the role of politicians, scientists, journalists, educators and religious leaders in building greater tolerance in the world.

I hope this conference can be an important forum for ideas and inspiration for the road ahead, a road where the world community has no choice but to walk together.

I hope to see you in Oslo.

Thank you.