On behalf of the Norwegian Embassy in Hanoi, accredited to Lao People’s Democratic Republic (the Lao PDR). I would like to extend my warmest greeting and best wishes to our friends of Laos on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of relationship between Norway and the Lao PDR.
30 years ago, on 12 November 1991, Norway and the Lao PDR officially established diplomatic ties and since then we have seen a good friendship and cooperation between the two countries. I wish I could be in Laos on this occasion. However, due to Covid-19, I have to join you in celebrating this important milestone in our relationship this way.
Let me start by acknowledging the efforts of the Lao PDR Government in the control of the Covid-19. I sympathize with the difficulties you are facing these days both health-wise and economically due to the pandemic. I am happy to know that the Government of the Lao PDR has been speeding up the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccination program, which is crucial for Laos and the world at large to build back better. Norway has been working proactively to promote equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, tests and treatments. We have contributed a total of almost NOK 1.3 billion (USD 141 million) to COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC) and it is good to see that COVAX doses are also reaching the Lao PDR.
Norway took the initiative to propose the establishment of, and initially contributed NOK 150 million (USD 14.5 million) to, the United Nations Covid-19 Response and Recovery Multi-Partner Trust Fund to help vulnerable countries with weak health systems and which might face devastating social economic impact of this crisis. I’m very pleased that Laos could benefit from this new trust fund.
The pandemic has shown us all that international solidarity and cooperation is key if we’re going to succeed in fighting this virus.
Norway – a consistent partner of the Lao PDR in mine action
Dear friends of Laos,
Our relationship is built on mutual respect and shared commitments to sustainable development of the Lao PDR. Both countries take pride in our bilateral cooperation and a shared commitment to sustainable development. The two countries have had a long and fruitful development cooperation in numerous areas such as hydropower, urban water supply, education, natural resources and environmental management, capacity building etc.
I would particularly highlight the Norwegian company SN Power (now Scatec) contributing to electrification and hydroelectric power development in Laos.
Please allow me to emphasize the key pillar in the bilateral cooperation between our two countries: Clearance of unexploded ordnance (UXO), as well as mine risk education and rehabilitation of victims. Norway has cooperated closely with the Lao PDR since the beginning of the negotiation process of the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM) that led to its adoption and signature in 2008. Our joint work, and the particular contribution of Lao PDR, as a country heavily affected by unexploded ordnance (UXO), was of crucial importance to the success of this treaty. As a result of the Convention stockpiles of these weapons are being destroyed in record numbers, and vast areas of land have been cleared of unexploded remnants.
Mapping and clearance of UXOs is key to sustainable socio-economic development in Laos. I commend the Government of the Lao PDR for establishing its own national mine action development goal (SDG 18th) and thereby demonstrating national ownership.
When it comes to mine actions, the Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA) is a key partner of the Norwegian Government. We are very grateful for the NPA’s presence and active operation in the Lao PDR since 2009. As a highly trusted and valuable partner of both donor and recipient countries at the operational level, we rely on the effective coordination and cooperation of the Lao PDR Government and other humanitarian demining organizations.
I would also very much highlight the role of local organizations in providing assistance to victims of cluster munitions. Cope and its impressive Visitor Center clearly do a very important job in providing rehabilitation and training of victims and informing about the devastating consequences of cluster munitions. Without them, we would not have been able to ensure an inclusive and comprehensive approach to mine action – It is all about survey, clearance, national capacity building, mine risk education and victim assistance. Together we will hopefully succeed in achieving your national 18th SDG.
Constructive partners on regional and international settings Both Norway and Lao PDR are strong supporters of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and a well functioning UN system. Multilateral cooperation and respect for a well functioning international order are important tools and the best protection for small nations like Norway and the Lao PDR. We highly appreciate your trust in Norway’s efforts to work for common solutions to our present and future global challenges, including our efforts for peace and security in the UN Security Council (2021-2022).
As a Sectoral Dialogue Partner to ASEAN, Norway values the close cooperation with ASEAN and each Member State of the bloc, including the Lao PDR. We closely cooperated during Laos’ chairmanship of ASEAN in 2016 in developing our partnership further for mutual benefit. I am confident that our collaboration bilaterally and through the ASEAN cooperation will benefit our two countries, our people, as well as the region.
As we mark this milestone in the relationship between our countries, I am confident that our bilateral relations will further strengthen and broaden. I do hope that when the Covid-19 situation gets better, I will be able to travel to the Lao PDR and that Norwegian tourists will again be able to visit this beautiful country.
The Lao PDR has been a treasured partner for Norway, and I look forward to following the results of our common efforts to advance the relations between our two countries bilaterally and multilaterally.
Source: Lao News Agency