Thorvald Stoltenberg worked at the Norwegian Embassy in Belgrade in the 60s. In 1963, Skopje experienced a devastating earthquake. Thorvald Stoltenberg coordinated the Norwegian relief work and assistance to the city. He made sure the city had blankets, medications and access to blood transfusions. After his effort, he was named an honorary citizen of Skopje.
“Skopje had a special place in my father’s heart, especially after the tragedy. I am sure he would have been pleased to know that he had a street named after him here in Skopje”, Stoltenberg said at the unveiling yesterday.
Thorvald Stoltenberg passed away earlier this year. One of the many things he will be remembered for is his service and contribution to the Balkans. He served at the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Belgrade from 1961 to 1964 and later he became the UN peace negotiator in the former Yugoslavia from 1993 to 1995. Thorvald Stoltenberg is not only an honorary citizen of Skopje, but also the city of Belgrade.
The Stoltenberg family has a special relationship to the Balkans. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg grew up in Belgrade, where he spent some of the first years of his life and it is where his sister Ninni was born. “I am one of the few people who have gone skiing in Kalemegdan, Thorvald insisted that we had to learn how to ski”, he said in an interview to NRK back in 2012.
The Secretary General visited Skopje in an official capacity to discuss Macedonia’s path toward NATO membership, provided that the referendum in the end of September is successful.