Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, Friends of Norway!
The Norwegian constitution was adopted on this day 203 years ago, at Eidsvoll, a little north of Christania, now Oslo. 1814 in Norway was a year of hardship, even famine, but also of ripening national awareness and unity. In 1814 the Danish-Norwegian state partnership of 434 years ended when the kingdom surrendered to the victors after the Napoleonic wars, and a 91 year long partnership with Sweden startet. 1814, - indeed the compromise of 1814 - marked the start of a long but successful Norwegian road to complete sovereignty, social progress, industrial development and prosperity. Two centuries of basically unbroken democratic tradition have left their productive marks on our country.
Today we celebrate Norway’s national independence, but also our diversity and inclusiveness - togetherness - across generations, regions, beliefs and ethnicities. Immigrants of the first and second generation now account for approximately 12 % of the total Norwegian population of 5 million.
17 May is also a day of reflection on Norway’s role in and dependence on Europe and the global community. We associate ourselves solidly with what can be said to be fundamental Nordic and European values, such as learning from history, the rule of law, honest cooperation and integration, free flow of ideas and impulses. Clearly, we draw considerable strength from our close cooperation and integration with the other four Nordic countries. And the European Union – the European Union is for us not only the most important trading partner, but its democracy, cohesion and strong common institutions are among other things also a bulwark against backsliding into the darker corners of European history and a protection against political opportunism.
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen
This is the Museum of military history. We have in all our states both tragic and glorious moments of war. We celebrate peace, it is a hard-won and great gift. But we are not naïve, peace needs to be protected and defended every single day. Norway highly values Hungary as an ally and friend in the maintenance of peace and security.
Historically Norway has many interesting connection points with Hungary. Quite obviously they have multiplied a lot since the collapse of communism.
Today, we have a unique and broad contact surface in the form of the so-called Norway and EEA grants. The present programme cycle is ending, with more than 600 projects successfully concluded all over Hungary. Almost all of these projects have a civil sector entity, community organisation, school or municipality as the final beneficiary. We hope to conclude a new agreement with Hungary as soon as possible for the next 7 year cycle, - and with an expanded scope to maximise the benefit also to our side in drawing on Hungary’s affluent knowledge and experience in many fields.
I would like to thank everybody who has welcomed me and my family to Hungary last autumn and shown us your beautiful country, rich in history and tradition.
Besides expressing my thanks to Hungary and all Hungarians here, I wish to greet my excellent colleagues in the diplomatic and foreign community in Budapest. I would also like to congratulate my embassy staff, the representatives of the about 900 Norwegian students in Hungary, the Norwegian related business community and other partners, and not least the Norwegian military personnell serving in the multinational Heavy Airlift Wing at Papa airbase.
Finally, it is my privilege to convey His Majesty King Harald V’s best wishes for the day, to the embassy, to Norwegians and friends of Norway in Hungary, and in Slovenia which we cover from Budapest.
So, thank you very much. Skål! And enjoy the buffet.