Baltic State Technical University
ladies and gentlemen,
Как приятно вернуться в Санкт-Петербурге снова.
(Good morning! It's great to be back in the beautiful city of St. Petersburg.)
I will leave the Russian language at that, and continue in English: I really enjoyed being at the Olympics. It is truly impressive what your athletes were able to perform in Sochi.
Now let's turn to today's topic the cooperation between Russia and Norway within the fields of education, scientific research and trade.
I have looked forward to visiting you here at Baltic State Technical University. This is an institution with long and proud traditions. Looking at the pictures on the walls in this auditorium fills me with respect for Russia's great research achievements. Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space, still inspires us through his words:
"Orbiting Earth in the spaceship, I saw how beautiful our planet is.
People, let us preserve and increase this beauty, not destroy it."
I greatly appreciate the close and 23 year-long collaboration between Voenmekh and the University of Nordland. A few pioneers took the initiative, and today, more than two decades later, you and many others have been able to take part of your Masters degree in another country.
As I have understood, most of you are studying or have studied trade, business and management. Trade and business are fundamental forms of human interaction and a crucial aspect of our bilateral relations. Your course in sustainable management is valuable in this context. I have visited the University of Nordland and know that their business and management expertise is well respected. Likewise, BSTU is known as a leading engineering university. This program brings together the best of both worlds. And the students acquire competence that is very attractive in the job market.
Research and education are essential for any society that wants to develop and prosper. And for us located in the North, close to the Arctic knowledge is the key to addressing the challenges and taking advantage of the opportunities this region offers in a sustainable manner. I am glad that research and education constitute such an important pillar in the relations between our two countries.
Russia has an impressive space programme. And Russia shares its knowledge and experience with Norway. Our two countries cooperate closely in the space technology field. We worked together on the space station Mir, and Norwegian research work has benefited from valuable input from Russia.
Later this year, a small Norwegian satellite will be launched by a Russian Soyuz rocket. The satellite will be important for shipping and for search and rescue services in the Barents Sea. This cooperation is based on our joint determination as Arctic coastal states to ensure safety and preparedness in this area. It also reflects Russia and Norway's broader cooperation in the High North. This is a region where knowledge and the sharing of knowledge is vital.
Meeting you today brings back memories from the years I studied abroad, at Berkeley in California, and in London. Interacting with other students and discussing different world views, cultures and ideas was a fantastic experience. I hope you feel the same.
I am pleased to note that that almost 1 600 Russians are currently studying in Norway. They contribute significantly to the diversity and quality of Norwegian higher education and to the good relations between our two countries. Your university has welcomed a number of Norwegian exchange students, and some of them are here today. But the number of Norwegian students in Russia can still be increased. We need to work harder to encourage more Norwegians to study here. I am proud, however, to say that seven members of my delegation have done so. They have benefited greatly from their experience of Russian academia and, not least, of Russian hospitality.
This morning I attended the opening plenary for three Norwegian-Russian business seminars here in St Petersburg. The participants have discussed a wide range of issues technological developments in the oil and gas and maritime sectors and closer cooperation within tourism and seafood sectors. I was impressed by the amount of participants from Russian and Norwegian companies, and this proves for sure that our partnership is broadly based. I do hope that some of you present here today will take part in developing the business cooperation between our countries in the future.
Russia and Norway have never been at war with each other. But when we look back in time, and when we look at the rest of the world today, one thing is certain: We should never take peace for granted. Some of you may have grandparents who lived through the Leningrad blockade from 1941 to 1944. Their stories may well have shaped your lives.
As you know, Norway was under Nazi occupation at that time, and it was Soviet forces that liberated our grandparents generation in Eastern Finnmark in 1944.
In October, we will celebrate the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Eastern Finnmark together with our Russian friends. We want to honour the men and women who freed this part of Norway from the Nazis. And we want to help the younger generation in our two countries young women and men like you to remember and keep alive this important episode in our common history.
Knowing our past makes it easier to face the future. Seeking knowledge, as you do, sharing knowledge, as you do, is important to secure a peaceful and sustainable future.
I believe you are helping to realise Yuri Gagarins fine words: Let us preserve and increase this beauty.