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Cabinet luncheon, Dublin

Speech by HM King Harald at the Cabinet luncheon in Dublin during a state visit to Ireland, september 2006.

Your Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Queen and I would like to thank you, Taoiseach, and express our sincere appreciation of your kind words and the warm welcome we have received here in Ireland.

When we arrived in Dublin with the Royal Yacht yesterday morning, we were following in the footsteps of our ancestors. More than a millennium has passed since Vikings from Norway settled in Dublin, and legend has it that it was the Viking settlement that gave the city its name. Whatever the truth of that particular tale, it is clear that the people of Norway have ancient ties to Dublin. Today, Norwegians associate Dublin with the friendly people who live here, and we admire the recent dynamic development of your city and its economy. Ireland and its capital are highly valued by Norwegians, be they tourists, business people, or students.

Ireland and Norway enjoy excellent relations. There are many similarities between our countries; we are both on the periphery of Europe and we are both prosperous nations. I see in this an opportunity for further cooperation in a wide range of fields.

An interesting fact is recounted in the biography of the great Irish novelist James Joyce. He was fascinated by Ibsen’s plays, and undertook to learn Norwegian in order to read them in the original. Just as Ibsen brought European drama to a new stage of development, James Joyce took the art of writing to a new level. Although Ibsen is unlikely to have been Joyce’s main source of inspiration, this anecdote does illustrate the value of having a thorough knowledge of what has come before.

I believe that we can also learn something from Joyce when it comes to international cooperation. States have to show a sincere interest in, and appreciation of, each other’s qualities. This enables them to discover ways to build upon each other’s knowledge and strengths, and this in turn paves the way for development. The Queen and I sincerely hope that our visit to your beautiful island will spark interest in further cooperation between our nations, and strengthen existing ties.

This year, we are commemorating the one hundredth anniversary of Ibsen’s death. Events celebrating Ibsen and his plays are taking place all over the world, including here in Ireland. In fact, a joint Irish-Norwegian colloquium on Ibsen is being held at Trinity College today, and an Ibsen exhibition has been opened at the National Library.

Our nations have always depended on the fruits of the earth and the sea for survival. We share concerns about the environment, and are working together to find the best ways of safeguarding our natural heritages. Society is moving forward, with many technical advances and increasing industrial efficiency. We have to ensure that our environmental efforts develop at the same pace. Industrial progress has to go hand-in-hand with better protection of the many ecosystems that our survival and wellbeing depend upon. I am pleased to see that Norwegian and Irish scientists are already cooperating in this field. University College Dublin is today hosting an Irish-Norwegian veterinary conference on the links between food quality and the health and wellbeing of animals.

Today, Ireland and Norway are leading economic and industrial nations. We both focus on innovation and technology, and share a particular interest in the shipping industry and maritime innovation. Institutions in Ireland and Norway cooperate on a range of maritime education and research projects. These include projects to protect the vulnerable maritime environment, which is of great importance and common interest to our countries. The Queen and I are looking forward to attending the opening of the Irish-Norwegian conference on maritime governance in Cork tomorrow.

Europe is in transition. Although Norway is not a member of the EU, we participate in the internal market, and cooperate closely with the EU through the EEA Agreement. Alongside our European cooperation, bilateral relations are vitally important to both of our nations.

Our countries share many values and ideals, and we work well together. It is my sincere hope that this visit will draw attention to the many exiting opportunities for cooperation that exist between our two nations, and that our good relations will grow even stronger in the years to come.

I invite you all to join me in a toast to An Taoiseach, to the people of Ireland, and to the further development of Irish-Norwegian relations.


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