Anniken Huitfeldt is appointed ambassador to the United States

The former minister of foreign affairs will not comment on criticism

Huitfeldt

Lise Åserud / NTB
Anniken Huitfeldt received flowers after having been appointed Norway’s ambassador to the United States.

Kenneth Kandolf Haug & Marius Helge Larsen
NTB

Norway’s former foreign minister, Anniken Huitfeldt, was appointed Norway’s ambassador to the United States on March 15. She will now undergo training at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and will take up her position as ambassador after the summer.

“I really want to do this job. I am very motivated and will use all my efforts to strengthen the relationship between Norway and the United States,” Huitfeldt said to NTB.

Drawing on experience, 54-year-old Huitfeldt succeeds her namesake Anniken Ramberg Krutnes.

The post in Washington D.C. is considered internally in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to be the most prestigious ambassadorship one can achieve, and it has not been uncontroversial that a former politician with no diplomatic experience has been appointed to the post.

“In this role, we have emphasized political experience. Huitfeldt knows Norwegian foreign policy better than most people from the parliament and the government. She also knows the defense sector very well, having chaired the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee for eight years. Her political experience is a great advantage in the job as ambassador in D.C.,” said Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide (Labor Party) in a press release.

Will not comment on criticism

At a press conference afterwards, Eide elaborated on why a politician got the post, instead of a professional diplomat.

“This is something that is occasionally done. There have been people from a number of parties who have gone from being top politicians to ambassadorial positions, because you take with you experiences that are relevant to diplomacy.”

He mentioned, among others, Jan Petersen (ambassador in Vienna 2009-14) and Bjørn Tore Godal (Berlin 2003-07) as examples of similar appointments.

The Progress Party’s leader, Sylvi Listhaug, has criticized the appointment, and believes that Huitfeldt is not the best qualified for the job.

Huitfeldt herself will not comment on the criticism.

“I have no comments. It is the government that appoints,” she says.

A time of transition

A question that has arisen is whether Huitfeldt can handle the very important relationship with the United States if Donald Trump were to become president again.

“The United States is in a time of transition, and I will use the experience I have as a politician to further develop the very good cooperation we have between Norway and the United States,” she said.

When asked about Trump, she refers to the foreign minister.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs emphasizes Huitfeldt’s personal qualities.

“I find that Anniken Huitfeldt is a very outgoing person who is good with people, used to making contacts and able to listen to what they say, and I think she will be in a very good position to move from a political role to an official role. There are some qualities that you bring with you from political work that come to good use in diplomacy.”

Labor veteran

Huitfeldt has resigned from all political positions as a result of the appointment.

She had to resign as foreign minister in October last year after her husband had traded stocks in several listed companies while she was foreign minister. At the time, she had been in the post for just over two years.

On March 5, the parliament decided that she should receive criticism for the case. A minority in the control and constitution committee wanted to give “strong criticism.”

She was a member of the central board of the Labor Party from 2002 to 2023 and has held a number of positions in the party and politics. As a parlimentary representative, Huitfeldt has represented Akershus since 2005.

During the Stoltenberg government, she was minister for children and equality in 2008-2009, minister for culture in 2009–2012 and minister for labor in 2012–2013.

Also see: Huitfeldt kan bli neste USA-ambassadør in the February 2024 issue and Corruption seen in Norway’s government in the September 2023 issue of The Norwegian American.

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NTB

NTB (Norsk Telegrambyrå), the Norwegian News Agency, is a press agency and wire service that serves most of the largest Norwegian media outlets. The agency is located in Oslo and has bureaus in Brussels, Belgium, and Tromsø in northern Norway