Today, it is 20 years since diplomatic relations were established between Norway and a number of states that had previously been part of the Soviet Union. In some cases – Russia, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania – relations were re-established in 1991. In others, diplomatic relations were established for the first time in 1992.
Since 1991, Norway has opened five new missions in this area: embassies in Kiev, Baku and Astana, and consulates general in Murmansk and St. Petersburg. Meanwhile, Ukraine and Kazakhstan have established embassies in Oslo, and Georgia has decided to follow suit.
The breadth and depth of our relations varies. This is natural given the differences in geography, historical ties and membership of international organisations and mechanisms for cooperation. But all are members of the UN and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), and most are members of the Council of Europe.
This provides an important basis for our bilateral relations. Within these frameworks, we have all committed ourselves to building societies that are based on common values – human rights, democracy and the rule of law. Given the Soviet past of these countries, it is not surprising that change takes time. After 20 years, many have progressed far, while much still remains to be done in others.
“The international community also has an important role to play in this context. Norway has played a part in promoting these fundamental values. We do so in several ways, including through our bilateral ties,” said Mr Støre.
For 20 years, Norway has supported concrete measures in these countries to promote human rights, democracy and the rule of law, environmental protection, sustainable development, protection of valuable cultural heritage and sound management of resources. In addition to contributing to positive development in these countries, cooperation in these areas has been important for developing relations between our countries at different levels and between different actors – at local as well as national level – in the business sector, civil society and academia, and between the authorities. These contacts are a source of enrichment for Norwegian society too.
“On the occasion of this 20th anniversary, we should appreciate all the positive results of our relations with these countries since 1991/92. At the same time, we should look ahead. We must continue to develop our wide-ranging cooperation for the common good of our countries and peoples. Our ambition is that our relations will continue develop at least as positively and dynamically over the next 20 years,” said Mr Støre.