Norway contributes $25m for pilot project
On the occasion of Norway’s National Day today, the country’s ambassador to Viet Nam, Kjell Storlokken, spoke to Viet Nam News.
Norway has pledged US$25 million as an additional contribution in 2007 to help the eight pilot countries, including Viet Nam, in the “One UN programme”. How do you think countries like Viet Nam can benefit from such a programme?
Viet Nam as a pilot country for UN-Reform will receive its fair share of this contribution. This will help the UN implement important programmes together with the Vietnamese Government, like public administration reform and legal reform.
By enhancing coherence, co-ordination and programmatic synergies we believe the UN will better assist Viet Nam in important development and reform issues. The extra allocation may also be used to implement the UN-reform process itself.
Norway is a strong supporter of the United Nations and believe reforms are important in order to strengthen the organisation. You may know that Norway’s Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg was appointed by Kofi Annan as one of the co-chairs of the High-level Panel that proposed the ongoing reforms, including reforms at country level “One UN at Country level”.
My country strongly wants these reforms to succeed and has therefore made this additional contribution. The funds will be channelled through the UN-system in each of the pilot countries as an un-tied contribution to implement UN core programmes.
Norway at a glance:
Area: 323,877 sq.km
What are the possibilities for stronger engagement in commercial co-operation and trade between Viet Nam and Norway?
There is an increasing interest among Norwegian companies for engagement in Viet Nam. Over the last year we have seen some new companies establishing themselves here, especially in the maritime sector, petroleum sector and in the fisheries sector.
Norwegian shipowners have placed quite big orders for building of ships at Vietnamese shipyards, and there are also investments being made in new shipyards. So the trend has been positive over the last year and I expect this to continue.
This year we are also launching a match-making programme with an aim to identify and bring together companies in Viet Nam and Norway that have an interest in developing commercial partnerships.
Last year the embassy introduced Norwegian culture to Vietnamese people during the Ibsen Year 2006 programme. Will there be similar activities for the 2007 Grieg Year celebrations?
Yes. I am very happy to announce that there will be a Grieg concert in December this year with the Viet Nam National Symphony Orchestra in Ha Noi. The concert will be conducted by Halldis Rnning who visited Ha Noi and HCM City last year in connection with our anniversary concert celebrating 35 years of diplomatic relations between Norway and Viet Nam. I think many people remember her performance in the Ha Noi Opera House and we are very much looking forward to seeing her again.
|Oslo’s City Hall and Waterfront. — VNS File Photos|
We are also trying to bring more cultural events to HCM City, and I really hope that we will manage to give the people in HCM City the opportunity to listen to Grieg later this year. But first, I would encourage all people in HCM City to go and see the Ibsen play “A Doll’s House” performed by the Youth Theatre in the Opera Theatre of HCM City. The play will be staged from June 17 to 27. Judging from the response by the Vietnamese audience in Ha Noi, this is something you should not miss.
How has your year as Norwegian Ambassador to Viet Nam been going, compared to your diplomatic work in other countries?
I have had a very interesting and satisfying year in Viet Nam. The diplomatic relations between our two countries are excellent. Both on the political front and in development co-operation we have an active engagement in many areas, and in the cultural and commercial areas we see new partnerships being formed.
I see this as demonstrating clear interests in both our countries to broaden and deepen our relationship. I have served in five other countries before Viet Nam and I and my family have enjoyed our stays in all of them. To work in the Foreign Service gives this opportunity to learn about different cultures and ways of life and we have found this most rewarding.
This is my first posting in an Asian country and I am happy to have this privilege to serve as Norwegian ambassador to Viet Nam. This country has such a rich and diverse culture, friendly people and wonderful countryside, so there is a lot for us to experience and enjoy. — VNS
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