We believe in strong welfare state that can guarantee rights of all: Norwegian Foreign Minister
February 11. KAZINFORM. ASTANA
We believe there is a great potential for cooperation – we are both nations rich with energy resources, though being at different stages in our development we can learn from each other’s experience -our guest His Excellency Jonas Gahr Store, Norwegian Minister for Foreign Affairs told Kazinform correspondent.
You are the first Head of The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs coming on an official visit to Kazakhstan. How would you characterize the current situation of political and economic relations between Kazakhstan and the Kingdom of Norway? What are, in your view, the strategic points in the development of our future bilateral relations?
Well, the relations between Norway and Kazakhstan are at a very exciting point of departure. We have worked together for a number of years, but now we are taking a big leap forward. I would like to remind you, that Your President Nursultan Nazarbayev was in Norway in 2001, and then the Prime Minister of Norway was in Kazakhstan in 2004. And this is the first visit of the Crown Prince and Foreign Minister to Kazakhstan. The opening of the Embassy and the visit of His Royal Highness and me to Astana is a strong political signal for Norway that we wish to deepen and expand our political dialogue. And we wish to support our Norwegian companies in their industrial ambitions. We believe there is a great potential for cooperation – we are both nations rich with energy resources, and though we are at different stages in our development we can learn from each other’s experience. And in today’s talks with the President and the Prime Minister, Energy Minister, Deputy Foreign Minister, Minister of Industry and Trade I think we have highlighted a number of areas for mutually beneficial cooperation. Secondly, Kazakhstan now has the Chairmanship of the OSCE – this is a great responsibility and it is important for me as Foreign Minister to have close contact with the Chairman-in-office of this important organization. We know that Your President would wish to organize an OSCE Summit, and if member states can agree on a substantial agenda we think that will be a good idea. And at the same time we get a broad platform also to discuss human rights, freedom of expression, media rights and freedom of religion. We are for dialogue, so this will also be useful. I have met with a number of non-governmental organizations, media representatives – the Helsinki Committee and others. -Your Deputy Foreign Minister and I have signed a Memorandum where we are underlining the commitment to cooperation and friendship. I believe that the Norwegian company Statoil is now in a better position to start close cooperation.
Norway has developed a strong industry within Oil and Gas and has gained a lot of experience in managing oil resources. The national oil company of Norway, Statoil, has been an important part of this process. Please give us your views on how Norway could possibly share the knowledge and technology with Kazakhstan. In particular, how can you see Statoil’s presence in Kazakhstan contributing to the welfare of Kazakhstan.
Statoil has experience from exploration and production of energy on the Norwegian shelf since 1970 and I believe it is a world leading off-shore company which is very advanced technologically. But I also think that this company is creating value in the local society through investment and education infrastructure and through ordering public goods that benefit capacity building and welfare. So I hope that today’s visit has marked the first step to a new formal cooperation between Statoil and KazMunayGaz, between other oil-and-gas companies; and also in the energy industry in general. I think Statoil has been waiting for a ‘green light’ to enter into direct negotiations and my impression from the talk to the President and Prime Minister is that the ‘green light’ now has been given.
Your visit happens in the year of Kazakhstan’s OSCE Chairmanship – the first country from the Central Asian region and the CIS as well. How do you appreciate this fact?
I appreciate that a country from the Central Asian region is now chairing the OSCE I think it is a sign of the comprehensive nature of the OSCE that Norway from the North-West and Kazakhstan in the East have a platform for a political dialogue. It is an exciting sign. And we will work closely with Kazakhstan in the months to come.
We have our National Fund which is sort of analogue to your Pension fund. And last year I published a very comprehensive interview with Mr. Odd Instefjord, Head of Statoil here. I admire not only the fact that your Pension Fund collect so many assets, but it has a clear people oriented strategy. How do you see we can learn from you?
Well, you know, each country has to find an arrangement suitable to its traditions. And countries with large revenues over short time need to find mechanisms to deal with these revenues. So I think, technically, Norway’s arrangement is a wise one. And the idea that we will invest in future generation and the pensions I think is also economically the right one. But we have an active policy of redistribution. We believe in small differences between people and in a strong welfare state that can guarantee everyone?s rights. That is a political value which, I think, is shared by the majority of my countrymen. But I would add that in addition to being a political issue, it is also, in my view, economically effective. Because countries with small differences in revenues, a high level of education and solid welfare platform normally do better because people become more productive, adaptable and flexible. In Norway really there is no group or individual who have become individually very rich because of oil, there is a society which become richer. That is a part of our strong democratic tradition, I think.
I also believe it is very important to have an active state policy against corruption. There is a necessity to have transparency in the flow of income. Because this is not the leader’s money – it is the people’s money therefore it the people’s resource. It is the people’s resource – thus it is the people’s money.
Astana is a young capital of Kazakhstan which is considered as a country making rapid strides in this region. It has recently hosted the 3rd Congress of leaders of the World and traditional religions and expecting the 3rd Economic Forum in summer. What can you say about the new role of our capital city for our future development.
I’ve been driving through the city and I admit that it was very spectacular adventure to create the new capital. So I think for me, who is coming from a country which has the same capital for a century to a country which recently changing the location of the capital, it is very spectacular feeling. I hope that Astana will develop into a stable and hospitable capital for its citizens and also for the rest of the country.
On behalf of our young readers, who have just started their career, I would like you, a career diplomat, to brief us about your professional and family life.
I did my military service in Naval Academy, then got my Degree in Economics and History in Paris. I have worked most of my professional life in public sector. So I have been an advisor to a Prime Minister, but I’ve been also been out of politics. I served as the Secretary General of the Norwegian Red Cross. And now I have been Foreign Minister since 2005, so it’s almost five years, and I am also elected to Parliament. I am happy father, have a great wife and three boys – one a 20 years old student in Psychology, the two others are pupils in school.