New monthly column in the Norwegian American WeeklyBy Anne Myklebust, Cultural Affairs Officer
Royal Norwegian Embassy
January and February are always a period when one looks forward to what the new year may bring. This year, the sense of anticipation has been more noticeable than ever, due to the great expectations regarding the new President of the United States of America. Since the start of a new year is a perfect time to embark on something new, the embassy is delighted to announce that we will now be contributing to the Norwegian American Weekly on a regular basis. Our contribution will come in the form of this column, which will highlight some of our recent activities.
In many ways, the start of 2009 can be described as the ‘calm before the storm’ here at the embassy, as we anticipate the many visits that have already begun to fill our calendars as the new administration gets settled. The interest among Norwegian officials in U.S. politics is overwhelming. The embassy has therefore reported extensively on the new administration, and made plans for future visits and meetings between Norwegian and U.S. officials. We look forward to collaborating with the new administration, and know that our colleagues in Norway share this view.
The potential for collaboration between Norway’s government and the new administration is great, and the embassy is of course always eager to facilitate such collaboration. The fact that the past few months have been a period of transition has not prevented us from trying to get a head start on issues of specific interest to Norway. Norway has already started discussing issues related to climate change with the new administration, with a focus on the arctic. We expect this to become an important aspect of our bilateral dialogue in coming years.
Another area of mutual interest is the complex and difficult situation in the Middle East after the Gaza conflict. Preparing for the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee for Assistance to the Palestinians later this spring has been a priority. This committee coordinates and promotes assistance efforts of individual donors to the Palestinian people, and Norway remains committed to what AHLC aims to achieve: relief and rehabilitation. Our Foreign Minister, Jonas Gahr Støre, is the Chair of the AHLC. Støre recently spoke with George J. Mitchell, President Obama’s Special Envoy for the Middle East, and while the challenges facing the committee are many, the hopes for what they may achieve during this conference remain high.
The embassy has also focused on promoting Norwegian architecture here in the U.S. Norway has experienced a surge in innovative new architects over the past decade, and to draw attention to their work outside of Norway is important to the embassy. We are therefore delighted that the Norwegian architectural exhibit “Detour” opened at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 26, with a reception for more than 100 guests in their grand hall.
This fascinating exhibit displays innovative architectural structures such as viewing platforms, resting points and even bike sheds in scenic surrounding. It will remain at the National Building Museum until May 25, and then travel to Philadelphia and New York.
All in all, the first two months of the year have been a period of proactive preparation that should serve our bilateral relations well. We look forward to keeping you all up-to-date on Norwegian visiting delegations and events we will be involved in, throughout the year.
This article was originally published in the Norwegian American Weekly on February 20, 2009. To find out more information about the Norwegian American Weekly and to subscribe, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at (800) 305-0217.