Oslo: talks on security and defence policy, future of Europe and Polish-Norwegian relations

Strengthening cooperation in the area of security and defence, the situation in Europe after Brexit, deepening regional cooperation, as well as the development of bilateral relations were some of the topics of the official visit of the Speaker of the Sejm Marek Kuchciński to Norway that ended on Wednesday. For two days, he held a series of meetings with representatives of the highest authorities of this country. The Speaker of the Sejm talked among others with the Speaker of the Parliament Olemic Thommessen, King Harald V of Norway and the Head of the Government Erna Solberg.

The strong Polish-Norwegian relations, as noted by Marshal Marek Kuchciński in his conversation with Olemic Thommessen, Head of Storting, are evidenced by, among others, Norway's adoption of the strategy for cooperation with Poland. The Speaker of the Norwegian Parliament paid attention to very good relations between the two countries, manifested by the fact how many Poles are rooted in the Norwegian society.

The Speaker of the Sejm emphasized the importance of strengthening the relations in the parliamentary dimension in such areas as cooperation within NATO and security policy, including energy security. According to Olemic Thommessen, the issue of security, military and defense cooperation and current directions in international politics show that it is important to maintain stability in Europe.

The politicians also spoke about the Norwegian experience in cooperation with the EU, in the context of Brexit and discussions regarding the future of the Union. The Speaker of the Sejm stressed the importance of the project of a Europe of solidarity and sovereign states. The head of the Storting indicated that Norway wants to contribute to the better development of the EU and has close relations with the Union through links with the European Economic Area.

The issue of strengthening regional cooperation was also raised, including Nordic-Baltic cooperation, as well as undertakings inspired by Central and Eastern European countries, such as the organization of the Central-North-Eastern European Parliamentary Summit in Poland in May this year, as announced by the Speaker of the Sejm. According to Marek Kuchciński, it is necessary to jointly look for answers to the challenges of security and migration and to renew the discussion on the system of values in the whole of Europe, not only in the EU.

With the Prime Minister of Norway Erna Solberg, the Speaker of the Sejm Marek Kuchciński discussed, among others, the security policy and deepening of the cooperation within the North Atlantic Alliance. The Speaker of the Sejm recalled the importance of the decisions of last year's NATO summit in Warsaw concerning the strengthening of the eastern flank and the military presence of the Alliance. Prime Minister Solberg said that Norway wants NATO to continue to be an instrument for preserving and strengthening security in Europe.

Marek Kuchciński, Speaker of the Sejm, talked about the involvement of parliaments, especially committees, in the matters of security in our part of Europe with representatives of the Storting Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defense and chairpersons of Norwegian delegations to parliamentary assemblies, including NATO, the Council of Europe and the European Economic Area. The Speaker of the Sejm reminded in particular that the security of the EU and the whole Europe is based on the strong North Atlantic Alliance and increasing its presence. The theme of the meeting with the representatives of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee was the search for ways to make the armed forces and armaments industries of both countries cooperate even more closely with each other. Marek Kuchciński also spoke with heads of delegations from the Norwegian Parliament about the development of cooperation within the framework of the international organizations they represent.

The official visit of the Speaker of the Sejm in Oslo was also an occasion to meet with representatives of the Norwegian Polish community. The discussion focused, among other things, on looking at the functioning of the state from the perspective of achievements and experiences of the past, which allows drawing conclusions for the future. The Speaker of the Sejm talked about important historical anniversaries, such as last year's jubilee of the 1050th anniversary of the Baptism of Poland, the 100th anniversary of regaining our independence, which will be celebrated next year, and the centenary of the first session of the Legislative Sejm falling in 2019. Marek Kuchciński also drew attention, among others, to the strengthened state policy towards compatriots living abroad. According to various sources, there are up to 120 thousand Poles and people of Polish origin living in Norway.

Moreover, during the visit the Speaker of the Sejm Marek Kuchciński, with the solemn assistance of the Royal Norwegian Guard, paid tribute to the fallen Poles buried at the Vestre Gravlund Cemetery in Oslo. The Polish parliamentary delegation headed by the Speaker of the Sejm paid tribute to the memory of 7 Polish airmen and 3 "cichociemni" and 24 other Poles buried in one grave who lost their lives in Norway in the years 1940-1945.

The Speaker of the Sejm also visited a special place for many Polish fans of ski jumping legend Adam Malysz. We are talking about the Holmenkollen ski jump located on the outskirts of Oslo, where the "Eagle from Vistula" won the first World Cup in 1996, and then stood on the highest step of the podium four more times. The royal ski jumping hill in Norway's capital was demolished in 2008 and replaced by a new one, which was opened in 2010.

Speaker Marek Kuchciński's visit to Norway is the first visit of a top-level representative of the Sejm to this country in 20 years. Apart from the Speaker of the Sejm, the Polish parliamentary delegation included the chairperson of the Polish-Norwegian Parliamentary Group, MP Gabriela Maslowska, and vice-chairperson of the Group, Senator Robert Mamątow.

text: Chancellery of the Sejm

photo: Pawel Kula

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