The transatlantic partnership, stronger than ever
ON THE EDGE: An opinion column about current issues in Norway and the United States—Join the conversation!
ANNIKEN R. KRUTNES
Norwegian Ambassador to the United States
“The United States of America is Norway’s most important ally, and we have shared more than 70 years of close, constructive defense cooperation.”
So said Norwegian Minister of Defense Frank Bakke-Jensen on April 16, 2021, upon signing a historic Supplementary Defense Cooperation Agreement (SDCA) between Norway and the United States.
“The signing of the SDCA represents an important natural progression in the decades of defense cooperation with Norway, a co-founder of NATO and steadfast ally,” said Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby.
On the 17th of May, it’s traditional to celebrate what it means to be Norwegian. And I will get back to that! But this year, I’d also like to take a look at how much it means for Norway to be part of certain global partnerships—in particular, our transatlantic partnership with the United States, which has stood the test of time and is still going as strong as ever. With the signing of this momentous defense agreement, Norway and the United States are ready to face the future together.
The year 2020 underscored the truth that no country can go it alone in this increasingly interconnected world. A pandemic of virtually unprecedented scope claimed many lives and roiled the world’s economies. We have all felt the impact of the pandemic on our daily lives. Although it is not over yet, we have come a long way with the development and use of effective vaccines.
Those vaccines were developed and approved ahead of most optimistic schedules and are now being distributed. The process hasn’t been perfect, but it’s working.
The pandemic reminds us that threats to our health and safety can develop at any time. Global cooperation is imperative in the global health sphere, to combat the threat of climate change, and to safeguard our shared security.
The ties between the United States and Norway are strong. We are both founding members of NATO and have stood proudly shoulder to shoulder for more than 70 years. Norwegian and American troops have fought side by side in several conflicts.
For another indication of the depth of the ties between our two countries, take a look at the new U.S. administration.
It didn’t take long for the Biden-Harris administration to reach out to Norway. In February and early March, several discussions between high-ranking officials in both governments reaffirmed the value of the U.S.-Norway relationship.
In early March, U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris spoke with Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg and U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken and Norwegian Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Søreide about topics of common interest.
U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III has also spoken with Minister Bakke-Jensen, to reaffirm the strategic defense relationship between the United States and Norway.
And Prime Minister Solberg spoke about climate innovation at President Biden’s virtual Leaders Summit on Climate, at the president’s invitation.
The conclusion is clear. The United States and Norway are staunch allies, and our transatlantic relationship continues to strengthen.
Undergirding the strong ties between our countries are the bonds between our people. We have similar cultures, similar philosophies, similar ways of thinking. Norwegians and Americans share a belief in the rule of law, in basic human rights, and in the rights of the individual. And that brings us back to the celebration of our constitution on May 17 every year.
Our very systems of government come from similar places. The Norwegian Constitution is based, in large part, on the U.S. Constitution, and together they are the two oldest constitutions in the world still in use.
And with as many people self-identifying as Norwegian Americans as there are Norwegians in Norway, clearly our people come from similar places too. In Norway, on May 17 every year, the principles of democracy, human rights, and the rule of law are underscored as the foundations of our society, foundations that we cannot afford to take for granted, and that have come under threat in several places of the world for some time. Making sure our young generations are aware of the privilege of growing up in a free country with equal rights for all, while at the same time instilling in them a sense of urgency in defending those same principles, seems to be a task for us all.
Wherever you are, I extend my best wishes to all Norwegian Americans in the United States for a wonderful May 17 celebration. May our paths cross in the year to come!
This article originally appeared in the May 7, 2021, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.