Maritime Seminar in Istanbul: Opening address
Your Excellencies, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
I am happy to be here Istanbul for the first time, after two exciting days with a full and interesting program in Ankara. Later today, I look forward to visit the Aya Sofia, the Blue Mosque and to a boat trip on the Bosporos straits. These are all places that so many Norwegians have appreciated to see. As many as 200 000 Norwegians visit Turkey for their holidays every year – and enjoy the Turkish hospitality.
For coastal nations, such as Turkey and Norway, the sea has always been a decisive factor in providing a living. It has brought us food, and it has enabled us to travel vast distances by ship for trade and exploration. The Vikings are often held out as experts in taking advantage of the opportunities offered by the seas. A thousand years ago, Norwegian Vikings even travelled to Miklagard, which was the Old Norse name for today’s Istanbul. In recent history the sea has been vital for our modern industrial development and in shaping our cultures. It links continents through maritime transportation routes, indispensable to modern world trade, and it plays a vital role to preserve a sustainable environment.
We have witnessed how climate change reached the top of the international agenda with remarkable speed. This is due to the urgency of the situation.
Norway has identified four areas where we believe our country can make a difference in countering climate change, and where we will seek to work in partnership with others. One of these four areas is shipping, a sector with a huge potential for reducing emissions. The others are carbon capture and storage, conservation of rain forests and protection of the world’s polar areas.
Our two countries also face the same challenges in terms of protecting the sea and our coastal waters from pollution - Turkey in the strategically important Strait of Bosporus, Norway in the vulnerable Barents Sea.
In order to create a sustainable maritime industry worldwide, Turkey, Norway and other maritime nations must work together to encourage research, new and innovative solutions and the ability to adapt to new challenges. As an example, ships are constructed to last more than two decades. It is not an easy task to foresee the global trade patterns, security concerns and environmental issues that will be shaping our world in 2030. Yet that is the actual challenge facing our shipbuilders and indeed the entire maritime sector today. We need to design, plan and build for the future. Norway highly esteems the expertise of Turkish engeneers in this field.
Norway has always been a staunch supporter of multilateral cooperation. Global challenges need to be dealt with on a truly global basis. This is why we believe that the IMO – The International Maritime Organization – must take the lead in establishing an ambitious international framework responding to the environmental challenges of the maritime sector.
Maritime freight markets have been highly volatile recently. A few months ago we witnessed an all time high, whereas recently we have seen record low levels. This reflects the situation in the global financial markets, and how it affects supply and demand for raw materials, commodities and consumer goods. It reminds us all of the close link between maritime industries and these markets.
Important issues will be discussed this morning. I wish you good luck in exploring ideas, forging new relationships, and finding common ground for the future.