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State visit to Turkey: Opening speech at business seminar

Speech given by His Majesty The King at the opening of a Turkish - Norwegian business seminar in Istanbul during The King and Queen's state visit to Turkey 5 - 7 November 2013.

Deputy Prime Minister,
Distinguished guests,

It is an honour and a pleasure for me to be able to greet you here in Istanbul this morning. This great city is a reminder for us Norwegians of our own history – of the time when some of our Viking ancestors joined the Varangian guard in order to seek their fortune. Thus a millennium has passed since Norwegians first discovered the opportunities Istanbul had to offer.

The Norwegian delegation and business representatives present here today are increasingly becoming aware of the importance of not only Istanbul, but the whole of Turkey, as a global economic and commercial player. Turkey has taken its rightful seat at the table of the G20, while Norway ranks 23rd among the world economies. Our bilateral trade has more than doubled during the past 10 years, but still remains relatively small. The fact that Turkey is EFTA’s oldest free trade partner serves to underline the openness and cooperation between our two countries.

Norway is one of the leading seafaring nations of the world. Maritime services, products and expertise constitute an industry that employs some 100 000 Norwegians. I am pleased that this sector will be one of the focus areas for this forum. Many of your shipyards are a short distance from here, and Norwegian industry has very positive experience with their counterparts in this country.

I understand that your maritime industry also benefits from Norwegian equipment, design and technology. This bodes well for a win-win relationship, with long-term growth and benefits.

The Norwegian coastline and landscape is rugged and challenging. Building tunnels, both for roads, hydropower production and even for ships, is therefore necessary, and an area of particular interest and expertise.  It has come to my attention that – for the first time – a Turkish contractor has submitted a bid for a road tunnel project in Norway. I hope the discussions about this sector later on will be both constructive and interesting.

This morning the Queen and I will enjoy some of the splendid historical architecture of this city at first hand. Coming from a nation with a harsh climate and a strong and growing sense of environmental responsibility, we appreciate the opportunity this forum offers to show what can be done by architects, city planners and the building industry to promote a more sustainable future. Some of the most promising building and urbanisation projects in Norway – with a climate-conscious and climate-effective agenda – will be presented here today.

Our cold climate and deep fiords, combined with careful resource management of fish stocks, have helped to make Norway one of the world’s leading producers of seafood. I understand that Balik Ekmek is often made with Norwegian mackerel, and I am pleased to note that Norwegian salmon is highly regarded here as well.  In this area, too, Turkey and Norway are finding more and more win-win effects. Sharing experience and expertise in seafood production and handling is one example; feeding a healthy population with Norwegian products that augment rather than compete with Turkish production is another.

Distinguished guests,

I started out by recalling that the city of Miklagard – the old Norse name for Istanbul – was a destination for Vikings seeking to make their fortune. The Vikings were great traders as well as warriors. They brought their dried cod, or “stockfish”, to trade. A thousand years later, I am pleased that we are strengthening commercial and other relations with the whole of Turkey. I wish this forum and its seminars every success, and I hope it will further boost our ever closer relations.


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