Fridtjof Nansen honored on the 150th anniversary of his birth
On Oct. 10, Norwegian explorer, scientist and humanitarian Fridtjof Nansen was honored for the 150th anniversary of his birth at a celebration at the University of Oslo.
Honored guests included HM King Harald, Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, singer Sissel Kyrkjebø, musicians Tine Thing Helseth and Madcon, as well as Petter Schjerven and Erik Solbakken.
HM King Harald thinks all Norwegians owe Fridtjof Nansen a debt of gratitude, not least his own family.
“He was an important inspiration for Crown Prince Olav,” the king said, in a speech that marked the 150th anniversary of Nansen’s birth at University Square in Oslo.
In his speech King Harald told of Nansen’s work as a messenger from the Government of Norway to his own grandfather, Prince Carl of Copenhagen in 1905.
“The government would not accept the Prince’s request that the king should be elected in a referendum. But instead of resentment, he met the Prince understanding. And even more important was that Fridtjof Nansen gave Prince Carl confidence and belief that he could manage the task that history had put to him,” said the king.
Prince Carl took the name Haakon, and became king of Norway. Fridtjof Nansen was closer to him than was any other Norwegian,” revealed King Harald.
The King expressed admiration for Nansen’s diverse talents and stated that all Norwegians owe him a debt of gratitude.
“He makes it an obligation to be a world citizen,” said King Harald, who described the adventurer, scientist and diplomat Fridtjof Nansen, but especially dwelt on his humanistic aspects.
“Nansen believed young people could solve major tasks. He believed that the poor and the persecuted could have meaningful lives if the world gave them a foothold. The Nansen passport says a lot about the confidence his name has gained in the international community,” the King said.
The Nansen passport was introduced in 1922 as an internationally recognized identity card issued by the League of Nations to stateless refugees. Fridtjof Nansen was the League’s first High Commissioner for Refugees, a point that the U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon pointed out in his speech.
“Nansen was a midwife of the modern collective conscience,” said Ban, who also expressed sympathy with Norway for the terror attacks of July 22.
“You met the terrible tragedy the way Nansen himself would have met it,” said Ban.
Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg was also at the event, and gave a tribute speech to Nansen and the legacy he left behind.
“Through his expeditions he put Norway on the map and helped to create our identity as a polar nation. As a humanist, he was keen to help those in greatest need,” said Stoltenberg.
He referred to Nansen’s work for prisoners of war, famine victims and refugees.
On this last point the Prime Minister was responding to charges from the organizations behind the campaign for undocumented refugees in Norway. In their opinion, Stoltenberg and the government are far removed from Nansen’s ideals when it comes to these people’s cause.
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