Tale/innlegg | Dato: 02.07.2019
Av: Tidligere utenriksminister Ine Eriksen Søreide (14. juni, Oslo)
Utenriksministerens presentasjon av stortingsmeldingen om Norges rolle og interesser i multilateralt samarbeid, Nobels fredssenter,
It’s good to finally present the Government’s new white paper on Norway’s role and interests in multilateral cooperation.
I am also very glad that my good friend and excellent colleague Heiko Maas, the German Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs, is here today.
Germany is a close friend and a key partner.
As we are also launching the Government’s updated Germany strategy today, I look forward to cooperating even more closely with Germany in the years to come.
Nine months ago, I launched the work on a white paper on challenges and opportunities in multilateral cooperation. And the result – the baby – is this white paper on Norway’s role and interests in the multilateral system. As far as I know, it’s the first of its kind. International politics have become more unpredictable.
There is more instability and greater unrest in the international system.
In particular, rules-based international cooperation is under pressure.
We’re a medium sized, open economy dependent on exports.
And the rules-based international cooperation, where we compete by the same rules and right comes before might, is exactly the foundation on which Norway has built its prosperity and security.
And our security rests on a strong alliance with commitments to each other. The core of international cooperation is that we commit ourselves beyond our own self-interest.
The white paper is our response to some of the major challenges we are facing internationally.
It sets out a direction for Norwegian multilateral policy in the years ahead.
It takes a realistic approach to international cooperation.
In other words, its starting point is the world as it is – not as we wish it were.
The white paper gives a candid description and analysis of the pressures that international cooperation and the liberal world order now faces.
We chose the format of a white paper because it is our opinion that this issue needs to be discussed both in parliament, over a coffee and on the subway.
Over the past few months, I have visited many universities, presenting, discussing and getting feedback. I think one of the reasons why the turnout has been much larger than I expected is that people are engaged, and that they feel a bit insecure and unsettled over today’s global situation – and the implications for Norway. They want our answers.
The white paper and these discussion will make us better prepared to deal with the dilemmas and handle the challenges. There are no simple solutions, and there are dilemmas enough for everyone.
But when the sea gets rougher, the guidance set out in this white paper will enable us to steer a steady course.
The white paper identifies six main challenges and six priorities for our response to these challenges. These will guide Norway’s multilateral policy over the next few years. Our point of departure is that we need more international cooperation, not less.
The first challenge is the shift in balance of power in the world.
The conditions for international cooperation change when US and European power becomes relatively weaker, and the economic centre of gravity shifts eastwards.
For example, the strategic rivalry between the US and China could be protracted and could have major consequences for the multilateral system. Trade conflicts create economic uncertainty that makes it more difficult for a small company in rural Norway to make investment decisions or hire more staff.
Secondly, some of the world’s most powerful states are turning away from multilateralism.
They are choosing to solve problems that affect us all bilaterally, instead of multilaterally. Sometimes they even chose unilateral decisions – or a transactional “tit for tat”-approach.
All of this makes it harder for countries like Norway to defend their interests.
Third, the norms, rights and values that are fundamental to Norwegians, and to Germans as well, are under pressure.
In the UN and other organisations, we are spending more time defending the status quo than taking bold new steps.
A fourth challenge is the surge of populism and nationalism in many countries.
Increasing inequality within countries has given rise to discontent with economic globalisation and distrust in the institutions that have facilitated it.
This can harm the legitimacy of organisations like the UN, the WTO and the EU.
Fifth, lack of representativeness, inefficiency and disappointing results are also diminishing trust in international cooperation.
Many organisations are functioning well.
But reforms are also needed.
Multilateral organisations must deliver more effectively and adapt to a changing world. Otherwise, their relevance will decline.
That brings me to the sixth challenge: the multilateral system must be enabled to solve new problems.
The system is not set up to address challenges like climate change, new transnational security threats, or issues related to artificial intelligence. The reality is that all of the major challenges we face, are impossible for a single country to solve alone.
Therefore, we need to reform our existing organisations from inside and develop new types of cooperation.
International cooperation is the best way to promote Norwegian interests.
Now is not the time to give up on the multilateral system that our security, economy and welfare depend on. Like NATO is vital for our security, the law of the sea and the EEA-agreement are indispensable for our economy.
On the contrary, now is the time to defend and seek to strengthen it. But Norway cannot do it alone. We depend on solid partners. Partners with engagement, creativity, pragmatism and wisdom.
And, the challenges we are facing mean that we have to focus our efforts.
The white paper proposes six priorities:
First, we must defend our room for manoeuvre in foreign policy.
When the global balance of power changes, Norway’s room for manoeuvre also changes.
The return of great power politics has consequences for smaller countries. Norway’s room for manoeuvre in foreign policy has always been a function of our ability to enter into strategic collaborations and alliances.
We must put more emphasis on upholding Norway’s positions – both at home and abroad. In foreign policy turmoil, our strength comes from being a clear and predictable actor in international relations, and nurture close partnerships.
And we must focus on advancing the issues and values that are of fundamental importance to us.
Secondly, Norway must be a driver of reform.
Ensuring that multilateral cooperation functions as well as possible will help to maintain our room for manoeuvre.
We must give priority to strengthening the institutions that matter the most to our security, economy and welfare – like NATO, the UN and the WTO.
We must defend what we have, rather than develop new, competing organisations.
Third, we must cooperate even more closely with like-minded countries in Europe.
The US is our closest ally. We have deepened our bilateral relationships with the US, but in 2014 we also started to deepen the bilateral relationship with key countries in Europe. This white paper aims to strengthen the ongoing work.
The EU and our Nordic and European neighbours are the foremost defenders of liberal values and multilateralism today.
Liberal democracies all over the world must also stand together and defend rules-based international cooperation – both in word and deed.
The fact that the German Minister for Foreign Affairs is here today reflects the importance of this.
Mr Maas is also one of the main proponents of building an ‘alliance for multilateralism’.
An initiative that Norway supports and is glad to take part in.
As I mentioned we are also launching the Norwegian Government’s updated Germany strategy today.
The strategy is a roadmap that covers most aspects of our relations with Germany, our most important bilateral European partner.
The goal is to broaden and deepen our already extensive cooperation even further.
The new strategy focuses more on cooperation on international issues than the previous one, and a key objective is to collaborate with Germany on upholding international law and free trade.
A fourth priority is to cooperate more on issues of common interest with countries that are different from us.
Changed power relations in the world make it necessary to adjust our strategies.
We need to intensify our partnerships with countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America.
Among other things, the Government is launching a new Nordic-African initiative in support of the rules-based world order.
Alliances with representative and diverse countries from all regions will have better chances of succeeding.
The two final priorities relate to the way the Government works to promote Norway’s interests.
In these challenging times, it is crucial that we work as effectively as possible.
Better coordination and collaboration, sufficient resources and expertise is crucial.
In closing I want to direct a warm thank you to my brilliant and hard-working team at the ministry, making this white paper, a fun and sometimes challenging process, possible – under the able leadership of Kjetil Elsebutangen.
The white paper is available here today in Norwegian and English.
I can assure you that it will be great reading material for your summer holidays.
You will also find the new Germany strategy in Norwegian and German. Perfect for the beach!
I now give the floor to my German colleague, Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs Heiko Maas.