Today marks Norway’s Constitution Day. It gives me great pleasure to convey my warmest congratulations on the special and festive occasion.
Norway is one of Afghanistan’s closest strategic partners with whom we share common values and objectives. Norway’s multifaceted contributions in Afghanistan have been an important part of Afghanistan’s many foundational gains achieved in the past two decades.
Norway’s ties, friendship, and partnership with Afghanistan dates back several decades. During the nineteen-eighties, Norwegian civil society was proactively engaged in various fields, with Norwegian NGOs maintaining humanitarian support in the period afterwards.
Of course, in 2001, as Afghanistan opened a new chapter in its modern history, Afghanistan-Norway bilateral relations and cooperation took on a new form and scope on a broad set of goals: combatting international terrorism, and advancing democracy, peace and stability.
Norway’s support in these areas has profoundly impacted the emergence of a new Afghanistan, where democracy and pluralism are embedded within our society, and a new generation of highly skilled and committed youth is demonstrating effective leadership in government, civil society, and as journalists, activists and other sectors of society.
Thousands of Norwegian soldiers have served in Afghanistan, including in training and mentoring missions, which have helped the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces develop into a more capable force that is now leading all security operations throughout Afghanistan. Norway’s role in helping establish the elite Crisis Response Unit (CRU-222) in the Afghan police force is one of the important hallmarks of its contributions in the security sector.
We also very much appreciate Norway’s important role and support of our peace efforts, to end the four decades of conflict and fulfill our people’s long search for a truly lasting and dignified peace that preserves and advance our past social, political, and developmental gains in a united, stable, sovereign and democratic Afghanistan.
We highly value and take great pleasure in seeing Afghanistan-Norway bilateral relations and cooperation continue to evolve and grow stronger as we approach the start of a new phase of our partnership with the international community, following the withdrawal of international forces from Afghanistan.
Norway reaffirmed its enduring partnership with Afghanistan at the International Conference on Afghanistan in Geneva, and we very much look forward to the new phase of our close bilateral cooperation under the soon-to-be renewed Strategic Partnership Agreement (SPA).
As my colleagues and I work on various initiatives to further enhance our close relations and cooperation in several fields, I am inspired by the level of commitment, interest, and solidarity with Afghanistan from colleagues and other stakeholders both inside and outside the Norwegian government and the country’s civil society. This strong sentiment of friendship and partnership has enabled us to formalize the start of various initiatives in different fields, and we look forward to building on our long-lasting and solid bilateral partnership.
As you celebrate this special day, I wish all of our Norwegian friends good health, peace, and prosperity in the coming year! Gratulerer med dagen!