State visit from Slovenia: His Majesty's speech
It is a great pleasure for The Queen and I to welcome you to Norway,
We much enjoyed our visit to Slovenia eight years ago, in May 2011. We had the opportunity to visit not only beautiful Ljubljana, but also Brdo-pri-Kranju with its splendid castle, and Bled with its stunning lake and mountains. In addition, we had the pleasure of meeting you, Mr President, in your former capacity as Prime Minister.
Our two countries share common values. An independent judiciary and the rule of law, human rights and freedom of speech are fundamental to our democracies. Both Norway and Slovenia are active members of the United Nations and the Council of Europe.
We are close allies in NATO. The alliance is crucial in securing peace and stability in Europe and internationally. Defending the multilateral world order is of the greatest importance to us.
Norway supports Euro-Atlantic integration as a key to stability and progress in the Western Balkans – and in Europe at large.
The initiatives of your country to promote stability and progress in the region – as well as your personal engagement, Mr President – are impressive.
Our two countries enjoy longstanding and close relations. We share not only common democratic values – both also delight in winter sports!
Mountains and snow are common features of both Slovenia and Norway. Both countries have centuries-old skiing traditions, and a deep love of the sport.
Our love of skiing brought our countries and cultures close in the 20th century.
Today, ski-flying is a shared passion. Norwegians have set a number of world records in Planica.
And Slovenian architects Janez and Sebastjan Gorišek designed the expansion of our ski-jump in Vikersund before the World Championship in 2012. Thanks to them, it is now the world’s largest ski jump. As you know, our countries have a long tradition of friendly rivalry associated with this sport!
Tomorrow, we will visit Holmenkollen. The Queen and I have a special fondness for this arena. President Pahor, visiting Slovenia’s exhibition on Planica and Alpine architecture at the ski museum will make the visit particularly enjoyable.
Since 2004, our cooperation under the EEA and Norway Grants has brought about successful partnerships, especially in the education sector. Climate change is a global challenge that we both feel strongly about. Working together, we will promote energy efficiency, a circular economy and sustainable mobility. Not least, electric aviation holds great promise. Slovenia is a leading country in this area.
I hope that tomorrow’s visit to the Oslo Science Park will open up new opportunities for bilateral cooperation.
The environment matters to us. The Queen and I greatly appreciate your gift of an apiary.
We are aware of the crucial importance of bees and other insects for pollination and food production. The gift is also a strong sign of our excellent bee-lateral relations!
Tourism is another area of great potential for our countries. Norwegians appreciate the warmth of your sun and the taste of your wine. Slovenians are perhaps drawn to Norway’s midnight sun – which is not quite so warm – or to the northern lights in winter. And of course, our common love of skiing and winter sports offers many opportunities for travel to each other’s countries.
What really matters is that we stand together with our allies and like-minded countries. That we use our joint strength to tackle global challenges – security, climate change, human rights and the rule of law.
I invite all of you to join me in a toast to Mr Borut Pahor, to the people of Slovenia, and to the friendship between our nations.