The purpose of the Transatlantic Symposium on Enhanced Cooperation in Research, Technology and Higher Education was to highlight the historically strong educational and research ties between Norway and the U.S., and to revitalize and broaden these vital bonds across the Atlantic.
Queen Sonja opened the session on Enhanced Transatlantic Cooperation in Space, Polar and Environmental Research in Northern Regions. “It is stimulating for Norwegian researchers to work with Americans. Thousands of Norwegians have been studying in the U.S., and the role of Fulbright is vital,” said Her Majesty, who last month became the first queen ever to visit Antarctica. “I have been to both Antarctica and Svalbard. Our ability to do research on both the north and south poles provides an extraordinary opportunity for cooperation,” the Queen said.
The joint Norwegian-US project AMASE currently studies the interplay between water, rocks and life in Mars-like environments on the Arctic island of Svalbard, which is Norwegian territory. “The Arctic Mars Analogue Svalbard Expedition tests instruments that could ultimately be placed on a space craft and help us to understand the place of mankind in the universe,” said President of the Carnegie Institution, Richard A. Meserve. “Our future welfare depends on our ability to acquire and use knowledge. This is why cooperation on research is so important,” said Ms. Thorhild Widvey, Norwegian Minister of Petroleum and Energy.
King Harald opened the seminar inspired by 100 years of strong relations between the U.S. and Norway. “For me coming to the U.S. is like coming home,” His Majesty said. The King lived in Washington D.C. for five years during World War II with his mother and sister at the invitation of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. “Norway and the U.S. have enjoyed a strong relationship since 1814. Our countries have valued the same things all along,” King Harald said.
The focus of the seminar was present day security challenges and the vital transatlantic ties that unite Europe and the United States. In his keynote speech, Senator Richard Lugar, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said: “It is a special honor to be with King Harald and Queen Sonja. Their visit to our country has been eagerly anticipated, especially by the many Americans of Norwegian descent who fondly embrace the homeland of their ancestors. I also would like to acknowledge the outstanding work of Foreign Minister Petersen. I appreciate his strong advocacy on behalf of the Transatlantic Alliance and the energy and thoughtfulness that he has applied to leading Norway’s ambitious foreign policy agenda. At the heart of that agenda has been Norway’s unwavering commitment to international service. Norway has been a model of global citizenship and peace-making.”
Mr. Jan Petersen, Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs thanked Senator Lugar for ensuring that the United States continues to play its leading role in promoting democracy and basic freedom around the world. “Norway considers the United States its closest ally. Our partnership is built on a firm foundation of shared values – a strong commitment to basic freedoms, human rights, democracy and the rule of law,” Petersen said. “This foundation is strong enough to withstand the ebb and flow of changing political currents. It is made solid because Norway and the USA share a cultural heritage; there is a wide co-operation in many fields; there are a large number of networks between universities and think-tanks – like the CSIS; there are bonds of friendship and family ties across the Atlantic,” said the Minister of Foreign Affairs.