Ambassador of Norway to Việt Nam, Grete Løchen, writes to Việt Nam News to mark the Norwegian Constitution Day on May 17.
Constitution Day – a celebration of the future!
Norwegian Constitution Day is the Norwegian National Day, which is celebrated by Norwegians to honour the Norwegian Constitution of May 17, 1814.
The Norwegian constitution is the second oldest in the world still in use. It was a radical constitution in its day, based on principles of sovereignty of the people, separation of powers and individual rights. These are key values that form the backbone of Norway today and are still taken further through our efforts in the UN and other global forums, and in close co-operation with our bilateral partners.
The Norwegian Constitution occupies a special place in our history. It was instrumental in providing Norway with the status of an independent nation. Openness, free exchange of opinions, inclusive decision-making processes and effective rule of law are the cornerstones of a modern, dynamic society. Today there may be different views and even strong disagreements, but there is an overall understanding throughout the Norwegian society that we must continue to actively protect these values at home and through our international work because they empower people and prevent misuse of power.
Our Constitution Day is the day of our national pride and the essence of being Norwegian. There are no displays of military power, no political speeches. The day is celebrated with children’s parades, with happy faces, schools’ marching bands and children from different ethnic and religious backgrounds waving the Norwegian flag in every corner of Norway. For us, May 17 is all about children – a celebration of the future of our nation.
Ambassador Grete Lochen (5th from left, front row) with Foreign Minister Bùi Thanh Sơn (centre, front row) at the UNSC Open Debate on Mine Action chaired by Việt Nam in Hà Nội in April 2021.
Five decades of pride and shared interests
This year, we are celebrating the 50th anniversary of our diplomatic relations. On November 25, 1971, Norway was among the first Western countries to establish diplomatic ties with Việt Nam. Norway and Việt Nam have enjoyed a good and solid friendship and co-operation for the last 50 years. The traditional relationship based on development aid has evolved to an equal partnership, bilaterally and multilaterally.
We have exchanged many political visits. Most recently, Norway’s Prime Minister Erna Solberg paid her first official visit to Việt Nam in 2015. President Nguyễn Xuân Phúc also visited Norway in May 2019 when he was Việt Nam’s Prime Minister. King Harald and Queen Sonja visited Việt Nam in 2004. Besides, our prime ministers and foreign ministers regularly meet on the sidelines of various international summits. We also co-operate constructively within organisations like the UN, WTO, UN, ASEM, ASEAN and now AIPA.
The ocean truly connects us. As coastal countries with long coastlines, we are both among the world’s largest seafood exporters. We take pride in the bilateral cooperation in the fisheries sector, spanning from governance to research, academic and vocational training, and business promotion. We are now looking into how we can promote marine aquaculture and fish farming in Việt Nam. Our economic success in the export of the famous fresh salmon throughout the world gives you a clear indication of the potential success for Việt Nam to invest in marine aquaculture. We are ready to share with Việt Nam our lessons learned from this.
We are both strong supporters of multilateralism. Like Việt Nam, Norway strongly supports a multilateral system with a strong and efficient UN at its core and a well-functioning international order. I am very pleased to see we are establishing closer dialogue and co-operation on several multilateral issues. Norway and Việt Nam share many of the same priorities in the UN Security Council(UNSC) as its elected members such as women, peace and security, protection of civilians, as well as climate change and security. Meanwhile, as a sector dialogue partner of ASEAN, this regional forum provides another track of co-operation on matters of mutual interest.
Honour the past by looking to the future
Norway and Việt Nam share a strong interest in increased trade and investments. Norway has strong expertise and experiences within sustainable ocean economy, renewable/clean energy, and circular economy solutions. Việt Nam is now home to more than 40 Norwegian companies including Jotun and Yara. More, such as Equinor and Scatec, are keen to invest in Việt Nam and build Vietnamese capacities in these areas. They will create more jobs for Vietnamese people as well as exchange know-how and transfer technology. Thus, an early conclusion of the free trade agreement between Việt Nam and EFTA countries (Norway, Switzerland, Lichtenstein and Iceland) would be beneficial for both countries, especially bearing in mind the negative impacts of COVID-19 on the global economy.
Ambassador Grete Løchen talked with Secondary VinSchool students about harmful effects of single-use plastic in a plastic reduction campaign in October 2019. Courtesy Photos of the embassy
Cross-cutting topics such as enhancing the role of women, gender equality and inclusion of ethnic minorities and other vulnerable groups remain high on our mutual agenda. This is more important than ever as the pandemic has negatively affected women and other vulnerable groups the most. Leaving no one behind and international solidarity are particularly crucial if we want to succeed in reaching the sustainable development goals (SDGs) by 2030.
We welcome Việt Nam’s ambition of international integration and being a responsible international partner. Norway is committed to remaining a true friend of Việt Nam and its people. We are ready to continue our dialogue and co-operation on issues of mutual concern, stand up for global values, and work constructively together for sustainable development, leaving no one behind!
Here’s to the 50-year friendship of Norway and Việt Nam and many years more! Hipp Hipp Hurra! VNS
Ambassador Løchen had a meeting with UNFPA in Hà Nội (April 2021) to discuss gender-based violence and gender-biased sex selection situation in Việt Nam. She was joined by Đỗ Quyên – 12th grader from Hanoi Amsterdam High School for the Gifted, Ambassador for a Day at the Norwegian Embassy in Hà Nội.