Norway’s Ambassador to ASEAN Morten Hoglund
In his recent visit to Vietnam, Norway’s Ambassador to ASEAN Morten Hoglund had an interview with Dan Tri/Dtinews Newspaper. Mr Hoglund took his office as Norway’s first dedicated Ambassador to ASEAN in 2017.
Greetings to Ambassador! Can you share about the purpose of your visit this time?
Next month, Vietnam will officially assume its role as the Chair of ASEAN. 2020 will be a very important year. Therefore I myself and colleagues from Norwegian Embassies all over ASEAN are here to discuss and plan our activities for next year, as well as to meet with Vietnamese officials to discuss how we can work together. That is the reason why we are here at this time.
We met with the ASEAN Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as the Department is coordinating ASEAN chairmanship and activities. We both discussed Vietnam’s priorities in general, for this chairmanship and planned for the activities the meetings and looked into some areas where we can jointly work with Vietnam.
You are Norway’s first dedicated Ambassador to ASEAN. What does it mean to Norway?
This means we do have a stronger engagement on the regional activities. We have a relatively new partnership with ASEAN, which will be five years next year. Having a dedicated Ambassador means Norway puts a lot of emphasis on the region. We work closely with our bilateral Embassies and Ambassadors like here in Vietnam. We try to find ways to expand our activities on the regional setting.
What are the priorities for your term?
There is a wide variety of different issues and topics that we are interested in. We are stronger committed in environmental aspects, peace and conciliation, energy, climate change, education as well as assisting smaller businesses…We have a number of projects going on in the region. Some are small others are larger. We also try to bring partners from Norway into ASEAN, and connect with local and regional partners to build a strong network and partnerships.
Vietnam and Norway have a long term bilateral cooperation. How would you see the potential to boosting this cooperation in the ASEAN context?
As you say, we have a very strong bilateral cooperation for many decades. It’s been changing very much over the past years especially when Vietnam has also been changing a lot. Vietnam is a totally different country today in terms of living standards, and you are a modern and vibrant country. The traditional development assistance that Norway used to with Vietnam before is now more or less non-existent. We see as a strong ASEAN partner and we can work on some of the traditional areas of cooperation for example fisheries and aquaculture. Norway and Vietnam have been working together for many many years on aquaculture because Vietnam is a strong aquaculture country. Now we want to expand this area to the ASEAN context and we can use the examples from Vietnam to assist other countries in the region.
This benefit is built on the very good bilateral relationship. We can take this relationship and bring it to the region. Therefore, having good partners and good friends like Vietnam is really helping us when we work in the region. The world is changing constantly and Vietnam is very trade oriented, focuses on economic and investment promotions, we also learn from how Vietnam places itself and is able to boost its economy. Young population is dynamic and this also benefits our young people and business community to engage more with countries like Vietnam.
Does Norway have any specific plan to boost cooperation with Vietnam in 2020?
Of course we do. This is something we discussed with the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs during the visit. Not everything is ready but there are some areas that we are launching activities for example including oceans, environment and marine littering. We will have activities that will specifically have impact on Vietnam. We will further discuss how we can cooperate on the ocean marine and maritime areas because both Vietnam and Norway are strong maritime powers. Peace and security in the region is another area. We will look into how we can build capacities specifically on women, peace and security, strengthening the role of women in peace building, conflict solutions. This is the area of common interest among ASEAN countries and also with Vietnam. We are happy to see this is a high priority also for Vietnam. These two areas I believe will be the areas we will focus on.
How do you see the link between Norway-Vietnam cooperation in the regional and international setting?
Next year, Vietnam also becomes a non-permament member to UN Security Council. Our cooperation will be bilateral, regional and also global. We hope and look forward to see Vietnam will bring the voice of AESAN into New York and Security Council. This is beneficial for Vietnam, the region and globally, and we look forward to cooperating with Vietnam not only here in Hanoi, in ASEAN but globally as well. As I mentioned although the our bilateral relationship with Vietnam has some how changed over the years, it’s always been good, friendly, respectful but it is now a different type of relationships. We are now in a partnership while in the past it was about assisting Vietnam to achieve its development goals.
Now we are finding common areas again for coperation and working together as well as addressing the challenges because the world is changing so fast. So is global trade, the dispute between US and China is all affecting us. We need close friends and we belive in a rule based order, multilateral system, strong global institutions such as ASEAN, and we can help build astronger respect for intermnational laws in all aspects. This is may be one of the big contributions that we can make and is one of our the same interests although we come from different parts of the planet. Major powers in the world, they are not as preditbale as they used to be so we have to share experience.
What is Norway’s stance on the South China Sea?
We are big maritime nation with a big fleet so we follow with interest what takes place. We asked that any settlement of issues to be done peacefully in accordance with the international law and respect of the established mechanism like UN Convention of Laws of the Seas.
We all benefit from freedom of navigation, so we strongly support the UN system to solve issues in this regard. We do follow this closely and also discuss it with all relevant parties.
Thank you Ambassador!
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