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A short visit to see good friends

Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg invited Chancellor Angela Merkel to Oslo on a working visit. On the agenda stood energy supplies and security-policy issues.

Chancellor Angela Merkel during talks with the Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg Chancellor Angela Merkel meets her Norwegian opposite number Jens Stoltenberg in Oslo Photo: Bundesregierung/Kugler

Snow flurries in Berlin, late winter sunshine in Oslo – the conditions might have been frosty, but the ambiance surrounding the Chancellor’s brief visit to the beautiful city on the fjord could not have been warmer. "Thank you for welcoming us so warmly, and thank you for giving us the opportunity to be here today," declared the Chancellor happily.

Close relations

The ninety-minute meeting between Angela Merkel and her Norwegian opposite number looked at current political issues, with the clear focus on bilateral relations. As both heads of government stressed, relations are extremely close and cordial, although Norway is not a member of the European Union. "Norway is a European neighbour with very close ties to the European Union, and as people here sometimes say, I believe, the most important of the non-member states," said the Chancellor.

In summer 2012 Jens Stoltenberg, the British Prime Minister David Cameron and the Chancellor held a discussion with young people about common prospects in Europe. The Chancellor’s most recent visit to the Norwegian capital was in December, when the European Union was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. "It was an extremely moving moment for me," recalled Angela Merkel.

Cooperation in the field of energy policy

Energy concerns were an important point on the agenda of the meeting of the two heads of government. The Chancellor advocated extending the already intensive cooperation between Germany and Norway in the energy sector. After her meeting with Jens Stoltenberg she stressed on Wednesday evening, "We very much appreciate the reliability of our Norwegian partners and the transparency in the issuing of licenses to German companies."

The planned direct current power cable that is to link Norway and Germany is "a vitally important and symbolic investment in forging close links in conjunction with the energy sector over the next few years," said Angela Merkel.

German-Norwegian energy partnership

Norway is crucially important in the energy sector. It holds more than 50 per cent of Western Europe’s oil and gas reserves, and is Germany’s second most important supplier of power, after Russia. Ten per cent of Germany’s imported oil and 35 per cent of its imported gas come from Norway (as at November 2012).

One key project of the strategic energy partnership launched in 2006 is the laying of an underwater cable across the North Sea.

This project is an important component of Germany’s shift to put its power supplies on a more sustainable basis. The cable from Southern Norway to North Germany will make it possible to push ahead with the integration of the power markets in the two states, which have not hitherto been linked. The project is designed to bring about greater network stability, improved market efficiency and balanced power prices across the entire year.

Worldwide cooperation

Cooperation with Norway is also ongoing in many international fields. It can be seen in the joint action taken with this NATO partner in the field of security policy, for instance. "Cooperation is excellent in Northern Afghanistan."

In the field of development assistance, "our cooperation could still be stepped up significantly," proposed the Chancellor,  "particularly in view of the fact that I hold Norway’s exacting approach to development policy in the highest esteem. I think that Germany could learn a lot from Norway."

Talks also looked at the situation in Mali and in the Arab Spring states as well as the peace process in the Middle East, where Norway has long been actively involved in brokering peace.

Feb 20, 2013