INTSOK seminar: Opening speech
ladies and gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure for me to be here in Astana. This is my first visit to Kazakhstan – a country in a region so rich in history and where ties between east and west have flourished for millennia. I am pleased to see that representatives of so many companies with expertise in the field are here today, from both Kazakhstan and from Norway. I hope that my visit will contribute to strengthened relations between our two countries, where our friendship can evolve into practical and profitable ties in the fields of trade and investment. I am convinced that there is great potential for expanding our ties, especially in the energy sector, but also in other areas such as tourism and fisheries. This year, more than 40% of the sea food imported to Kazakhstan came from Norway.
The foundations for the good relations between our two countries were laid by President Nazarbayev during his visit to Norway in 2001 and by Norway’s Prime Minister at the time, Kjell Magne Bondevik, who visited Astana in 2004. The Joint Declaration that was signed in 2004 provides an excellent framework for our cooperation.
Later today I will meet President Nursultan Nazarbayev and officially open our embassy. This means that Norway has joined the growing number of countries with diplomatic and consular missions in Astana. We are very pleased to be here and to contribute to the development of this exciting new capital at the heart of Eurasia. Astana reflects the growing political and economic importance of Kazakhstan both in the region and internationally.
Energy is a core element in our bilateral cooperation. Forty years ago, when Norway was entering the oil age, we had to find solutions to the same kind of problems that Kazakhstan is facing today. We had to attract investors while at the same time building up our own industry and expertise. At the same time, we had to keep in mind that other sectors of the economy must be able to thrive and develop.
Today, we can share our experience of utilising energy resources in a way that benefits the entire population and promotes sustainable development.
Energy is necessary for each and every country to promote economic and social development for their people. Energy is crucial to our efforts to reach the UN Millennium Development Goals. Energy issues are also intrinsically linked to how we address global climate change.
The dramatic consequences of climate change are already visible in my region. These changes will affect us all. Damage to the environment will remain for generations. In the Arctic, ice is melting at an accelerating speed. We see this in all ice-covered regions. I visited Greenland last year to see for myself how climate change is affecting Arctic areas.
We need to use energy more efficiently, we need more renewable energy, and we need cleaner energy. These are areas that both our countries are giving priority to, and where there may be opportunities for cooperation.
I was in Copenhagen during COP15. There I had the opportunity to participate in the opening of the exhibition of state of the art environmental technology from Norway. Norway and most other states had hoped for an ambitious and comprehensive agreement in Copenhagen. Still, the climate accord that was agreed on must be seen as a positive step. The next step will be the UN climate conference in Mexico. I would like to congratulate Kazakhstan on your ratification of the Kyoto Protocol, and the commitments you have taken on to cut CO2 emissions.
Norway is keen to work with the Kazakh Government and business community to support development in Kazakhstan, and we have high hopes for our future cooperation.
I wish you all an inspiring and productive seminar.