Statement by Mr. Jens Frølich Holte,State Secretary,Royal Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Head of the Norwegian delegation to the Ukraine Reform Conference in Vilnius, 7 July 2021

Dear President, Ministers, Excellencies, dear friends of Ukraine,

Norway is a close friend of Ukraine and a strong supporter of Ukraine on its path of European and Euro-Atlantic integration.

A politically strong and economically stable Ukraine is in the interest of Norway and in the interest of Europe. A weakened Ukraine would have adverse consequences for all of us. 

Norway has consistently condemned Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea, its destabilization of Eastern Ukraine and unacceptable use of force. In our reaction to Russia’s breeches of international law, Norway stands firmly together with our allies and partners.

Norway’s current financial support to Ukraine’s reform agenda is substantial – even in global terms. Norway is a major donor in projects aimed at increasing energy efficiency, reforming the energy sector, promoting business, and enhancing nuclear safety. Norway’s total support to Ukraine since 2014 amounts to more than 170 million euros.

We focus on areas where we believe Norway can add the most value.

Norway supports Ukraine financially in its efforts to reform corporate governance in alignment with international standards, through the OECD. This includes the recent reviews of Naftogaz and Ukrenergo, and the overall State-Owned Enterprise review.

Reform is no easy task. It requires difficult and costly decisions. However, efforts to create a more dynamic, open energy- and competitive State-Owned Enterprise-sector have lately fallen short of our expectations.

If we allow corruption to continue, we will not reach our targets. If we allow misuse of power to continue, poverty will remain, markets will fail, and democracy will not thrive. This is not in Ukraine’s interest.

Reforming the energy sector is critical to secure better services to the citizens of Ukraine. This entails reducing corruption, strengthening public finances, and improving the overall investment climate.

I must therefore stress the need of seeing this reform advance.

A strong and stable Ukraine requires sustainable growth. Such growth can only come from the private sector.

The last 2 years, Norwegian businesses in the Renewable Energy Sector represented 20 % of all total FDI in Ukraine.

But investors have been surprised and disappointed in the retroactive legal conditions, and in the unpredictable implementation of sudden legal changes on top. It goes without saying that stable frameworks and predictable implementation are key factors in attracting more FDI.  So is a predictable and well-functioning justice sector.

Norway expects Ukraine to be ambitious and focused on the further reform process and not to let the progress be watered down by vested interests, or interests who want to gain from the reform failing.

We expect Ukraine to use all possible means and efforts in succeeding and securing a predictable framework and to strengthen anti-corruption measures and practices.

To improve Ukraine’s competitiveness on global markets. To achieve growth, to achieve strength and stability for the generations to come.

Thank you.

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