|National pride: Children parade with flags in front of the Royal Palace on Norway's National Day. — Photo courtesy Norwegian Embassy
(VNS) On the occasion of Norway's National Day on May 17, Viet Nam News features an article by the Norwegian Ambassador to Viet Nam Stale Torstein Risa.
Today, on Norway's National Day, I extend my best wishes to all Norwegians and friends of Norway in Viet Nam. On May 17th, Norwegians all around the world celebrate the adoption of Norway's Constitution of 1814, the democratic society that we have built since then, and the freedom and opportunities that we now enjoy.
Our community of nations is experiencing much uncertainty after the severe financial crisis which continues to impact the global economy. We are now seeing signs of global recovery, which will hopefully be sustained. Climate change, with a warming planet, rise in sea level and increase in extreme weather conditions will also pose a challenge in the years to come.
I am, therefore, pleased to see co-operation between Norway and Viet Nam continuing to develop and strengthen. Our development co-operation today has an emphasis on technical assistance and institutional capacity building, with a focus on certain key areas such as natural resource management, clean energy, water and sanitation, climate issues and disaster risk management and humanitarian disarmament, as well as community support, primary education and healthcare.
It has been more than 40 years since our first bilateral assistance projects were put in place. Today, a considerable portion of our funding is channelled through the many Norwegian NGOs that work with partners in Viet Nam and through UN agencies. This shift in our way of funding also enables us to provide needed support for the UN reform process; Viet Nam has proven to be a very dedicated and successful pilot country for this important "Delivering as One" reform process.
We see a substantial increase in trade and commercial ties, although our bilateral trade figures are still relatively modest, totalling some US$500 million annually.
I am encouraged by the number of Norwegian companies that have recently joined with local partners to strengthen trade and investment between our two countries.
Traditionally, enterprises within the maritime industry sector have dominated, but in recent years we have seen a growing interest in areas such as hydropower, oil and gas, aquaculture, information technology, and the environment.
The recent visit to Viet Nam in April by Norway's Minister of Trade and Industry should enhance our commercial ties, and it resulted in an agreement that the ongoing Free Trade Agreement negotiations between the European Free Trade Association and Viet Nam should be concluded next year.
We also now see expanding co-operation between our academic institutions.
This is an exciting development, with the most recent collaboration being a Masters Degree Programme in human rights protection between the University of Oslo and the National University in Ha Noi.
As our political, economic and academic relations have developed over the years, so too has the people-to-people contact between our two countries, through a vibrant cultural exchange. The project "Transposition", which brings together 12 of our leading music institutions – seven Norwegian and five Vietnamese – is at the core of this co-operation.
I take this opportunity to thank all our friends in Viet Nam for the invaluable support that the Embassy receives – helping us to enhance and further strengthen the bilateral ties between Norway and Viet Nam. — VNS