Gripping meeting with the past
Today Their Majesties The King and Queen visited Parque de la Memoria (the Park of Memory), along the banks of the Río de la Plata. The memorial park honours the many thousands of victims of Argentina’s 1976–1983 military regime.
The King and Queen walked along the monument wall that is engraved with over 9 000 names of people who disappeared and/or were murdered during the military dictatorship. The identities of new victims are still coming to light, and are being engraved on nameplates on the wall facing the river. No one knows for certain just how many dissidents fell victim to the atrocities of those who took power, but estimates range up to 30 000 individuals.
The memorial park is located roughly 300 metres from the military airport used for the “flights of death”, in which dissidents were thrown alive from planes or helicopters into the river or ocean. The park was established in 1998 at the initiative of local human rights groups.
When they reached the end of the monument wall, King Harald and Queen Sonja went out on the pier to throw flowers into the river in remembrance of those who lost their lives. Here the King and Queen were met by representatives of Argentine human rights organisations.
Trade and industry
The day’s programme began in a very different setting, however, when Queen Sonja formally opened the large business seminar “Norway-Argentina, A New Partnership for Value Creation”. Some 20 Norwegian companies are already established in Argentina, and a number of Norwegian business leaders are attending the seminar. The aim is to expand trade between Norway and Argentina.
In her speech, the Queen pointed out important areas where the two countries share common interests, and took the opportunity to emphasise the importance of gender equality:
“If we really want to modernise our societies, we cannot ignore this issue. Women must have the same chance to contribute to, and benefit from, this new wave of modernisation. And this must also apply to the positions at top level.”
Argentina’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, His Excellency Mr Jorge Faurie was the host of the seminar, which was held at the San Martín Palace. This majestic building was designed by architect Alejandro Christophersen (1866-1946). Christophersen was of Norwegian descent and designed several of Buenos Aires’ most prominent buildings.
Cooperation in Antarctica
Both countries have interests in and history relating to Antarctica, and today the King and Queen also attended the seminar “Argentina and Norway – Pioneers in Antarctica”.
King Harald opened the seminar, citing several historical examples of important cooperation, not least in connection with Roald Amundsen’s expedition to the South Pole in 1911. Today, the two countries work together on efforts to protect and conduct research in the region. These efforts were further strengthened with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding on increased cooperation in Antarctica and surrounding areas.
“Norway and Argentina have more than a hundred years of joint history in the Antarctic. We have a shared responsibility in the region to protect its vulnerable environment.”
“Norway and Argentina have more than a hundred years of joint history in the Antarctic. We have a shared responsibility in the region to protect its vulnerable environment. I am confident that we will continue to learn more about this unique area, and seek to ensure that it remains the most pristine and peaceful place on earth.”
Key to the city presented at “Norway Square”
In the afternoon local time, the King and Queen travelled to Plaza de Noruega, where they were received by Mayor of Buenos Aires, Mr Horacio Rodríguez Larreta. The square is named for its proximity to the Royal Norwegian Embassy, and has been refurbished in honour of the State Visit.
Members of the Norwegian ex-patriot community in Argentina also came to the square today to greet the King and Queen and attend the ceremony in which Mayor Rodríguez Larreta presented King Harald and Queen Sonja with the key to the city as a symbol of friendship between Norway and Argentina.
Dinner hosted by Their Majesties
This evening the King and Queen will be hosting a large dinner at El Zanjón de Granados, the restored old town district in the San Telmo quarter. Some historians believe this to be the site of the city’s very first settlement in 1536. Excavations have uncovered ruins of the old El Zanjón. Now it is a popular area for cultural events.
This evening’s venue is decorated to give guests a sense of “strolling through the ice” on their way to the dinner, symbolic of Norway’s and Argentina’s common interests in the Southern Ocean and Antarctica. The evening’s entertainment will include elements of both Argentine and Norwegian culture, with performances by Argentine tango dancers and by Norwegian dance company Frikar.
Tomorrow is the final day of the State Visit.
Facts about Argentina
Capital: Buenos Aires
Largest cities: Buenos Aires, Córdoba, Rosario
Total area: 2 780 400 km² (Norway: 385 186 km²)
Population: approx. 43.5 million
Official language: Spanish
Form of government: Republic
Head of state (2018): President Mauricio Macri
Kong Olav carried out a state visit to Argentina on 18‒21 September 1967.
Norway and Argentina enjoy excellent relations, and in recent years ties have been strengthened in various areas, most recently with the visit of the Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs in 2016.
There is growing interest in business cooperation and establishment of Norwegian business activities in Argentina.
Argentinian exports to Norway consist mainly of commodities such as fruits and vegetables, wine, leather, food and mineral oil. Norway exports mainly fertiliser and other chemical products, machinery and technical instruments to Argentina.
Source: Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
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