Doctor of Civil Law by Diploma of the University of Oxford
It is with deep gratitude that I have just received the Degree of Doctor of Civil Law by Diploma of the University of Oxford. Thank you, Mr. Chancellor, for the honour and for the kind words you have addressed to me and Norway.
This prestigious and important centre of learning has fostered an astonishing number of excellent scholars and scientists for almost a thousand years, including 47 Nobel laureates. Amongst them five have received the Nobel Peace Prize in Norway. The honour bestowed upon me by this illustrious University fills me therefore with profound respect not the least because of my personal attachment to this institution.
My father King Olav also attended Balliol College, and treasured the memories from Oxford throughout his lifetime. Having heard of his stay in this enchanting town, - how could I but follow in his steps? I can assure you that I never regretted that decision, and I enjoyed every day on campus!
However, my father and I were not the first Norwegian royals educated in England. The first was probably Haakon, the son of Harald Fairhair, who was sent to the court of the English King Athalstan in the year 960. Thus I followed up a more than thousand year tradition when I arrived at Balliol.
British universities have a special attraction for Norwegian scholars and scientists. Thousands of Norwegians have received higher education in the United Kingdom. This country has, as a matter of fact, educated more Norwegians at university level than any other country outside Norway. Today, 28 out of approximately 3000 Norwegians studying in the United Kingdom are studying here at Oxford. I have also noticed that there is even one student at my alma mater Balliol.
Courses on Norwegian subjects at British universities have constantly spread the knowledge about my country to young people. History shows that many British alumni from these studies have made the most excellent ambassadors for Norway when they have taken their places in civic and working life. It is my hope that Scandinavian studies will continue to be an option for British students in the years to come. Financial pressures and changes in syllabuses have, however, made it more difficult for smaller departments and languages to survive. Today only two universities in the United Kingdom offer courses giving in-depth knowledge about Scandinavia to their students.
Chancellor, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I regard all learning and education as a life-long process. It is just as important to be able to learn when we are seventy - as in my case shortly - as when we are seven. The difference is that there are varied things to be learnt and diversified ways of learning. But the need for learning is no less important. Consequently I consider education in the perspective of learning for life. Education must be a source of development and renewal, of joy and practical use, of inspiration and of the strength we need to cope with new challenges and manage our own lives.
Knowledge is transferable and divisible, - and communication technology is the end of old borders and barriers. It is therefore important to be included in the world of knowledge, not excluded. Our schools have become points of contact for persons with diverse social, cultural and economic backgrounds, places where individuals are taught to respect and live with each other. This has resulted in a more demanding student population which in turn leads to new challenges for the educational system.
Education is important for the individual. But it is as important for our societies. Our economies are becoming based more and more on knowledge. General education and the development of specific skills are crucial factors in economic development and an increasingly important element of our national income, even for Great Britain and Norway with our oil and gas. In fact, the petroleum industry is a highly knowledge-intensive industry with a very international approach.
In order to be as competitive as possible, we are all looking for “smart solutions”. What these have in common is that they are based on innovation and know-how, and that they presuppose a high level of skills and efficient organization.
Education is also a prerequisite for liberal democracy, for tolerance and understanding.
Chancellor, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Britain and Norway have stood side by side in times of war and conflict, and we still do. We have supported each other and relied on each other. We know that we can trust each other. We know that our welfare depends on peace and stability, freedom and democracy.
Together we defended these values during The Second World War. Thanks to the courage and perseverance of the British people, the world was saved from the Nazis. Today, we are standing together to protect freedom, democracy and human rights. Through NATO, a pillar in our relations, our troops work closely together, facing the terrorist threat under joint command.
Today energy has become a major area of economic co-operation. Oil and gas were discovered in the North Sea only some 40 years ago. All of a sudden, a new era started in a sea basin we have shared as seafaring nations for centuries, - an era of new possibilities - but also an era of new challenges. As befits good friends and neighbours, we have found good political solutions and achieved major technical breakthroughs in a spirit of co-operation. The question of delimitation of the continental shelf was resolved amicably at an early stage. The last element to fall into place was the signing of a treaty in April 2005, which will cover all new cross-boundary oil and gas projects that are not covered by existing agreements. The way in which these issues have been solved can serve as an example for other nations sharing common boundaries.
Last month a new pipeline, Langeled, from Norway to the United Kingdom was opened. Langeled and other gas pipes’ capacity can now supply more than 30 per cent of the gas needed each year in the United Kingdom for the next 40 years or so.
New technology will make it possible to extract more oil and gas from deposits that only a few years ago could not be exploited. Furthermore, new technological advances will make it possible to make new discoveries and safely develop fields where geology and rough waters have stopped us so far. The North Sea has been, and will continue to be, an extraordinary laboratory for developing world class technologies for the oil and gas industry, technologies which today are much in demand. In addition protection of the environment will be of utmost importance for all Norwegian exploration and production of oil and gas in the years to come.
Our further co-operation in all these fields of politics, economy and technology require one fundamental common asset, and that is “Education”.
When Norway was occupied from 1940 to 1945, Britain gave refuge to the Norwegian Royal Family, our Government and thousands of Norwegians eager to defend the values we share, namely “freedom, democracy and human rights”. When the war ended in 1945 Norway was exhausted and partly destroyed after five tough years. In this situation Britain opened up its universities and technical colleges for a great number of Norwegian students. You extended your assistance and made valuable contribution to the rebuilding of our country. For all of this, we are ever grateful.
Some years later but in the same context I was privileged enough to spend some wonderful and stimulating semesters in this country. For me as well as for a number of fellow Norwegian students this opportunity turned out to be of great importance.
Today the memories have been renewed and the ties strengthened.
I thank you again for the honour I have received here today.