INTERVIEW WITH THE FIRST SECRETARY AT ROYAL NORWEGIAN EMBASSY IN MADRID,KRISTIAN RØED


During the last semester of my first undergraduate year I had to write many articles about geopolitical issues from Europe, the region I’m most interested in. The last class project consisted on interviewing a representative of any European country. I had the pleasure to meet the First Secretary at the Royal Norwegian Embassy, Mr. Kristian Røed, who kindly answered to all the questions I proposed.

As Norway is one of the countries less involved in the European Union firstly, I asked him what functions the embassy carries out in Spain. He told me the main functions are all focused on maintaining and supervising a good relationship between both countries. The relations are mostly political and economical, encouraging new Norwegian business and helping the ones who are already settled in Spain; whereas the consulates undertake the main daily problems of the citizens living there. As well, talking about Norwegian civilians in Spain, I wanted to know how the country is perceived by them, after the many problems it is suffering and surprisingly, the answer was that the number of visitors has been increasing during the last year and the most shocking, the number of people who decide to move to Spain as well. The majority are retirees who come to live in the coast (as their favourite part) because they consider it provides an “easy” lifestyle together with the weather conditions, gastronomy and house prices.

About the current economic crisis that is hitting the EU he said that “consequences are inevitable for all members any way, but Norway hasn’t been affected as much as the rest”. The oil and gas market remain intact in that zone, “our European trade partners have decreased their demand, and it is due to the economic crisis” whereas exportations to Asian countries such as China are going on as before at a good price and the importations that we do from them at a lower price. This market has of course, saved their economic system but as well political changes that the Government carried out during the 90´s, when Norway suffered their own banking crisis, “we were more prepared than the others, I guess”. Still in the conversation about the European issue it was inevitable to ask about the future of Norway within the EU after the last elections that took place there in which right and extreme right parties won. “Extreme right parties are not the same as the ones Spain know” he clarified first of all. Political changes haven’t been really noticeable since differences between political parties in Norway are poor. The main political aims that they pursue are to ensure economic competitiveness of the country and tax reductions, “non-immigration policies are not a priority right now for the Government” he said referring to the last campaigns made by extreme right parties from France and the UK. What’s more, the conservative party recently announced that they were willing to join the Union even more but after a referendum made to the population, the result was of 51% who said “no” to join it although they are happy with the economic relations that both have at the moment. Norway will maintain the international treaties and will still be a member of the European Economic Area.

“Our citizens doesn’t like to be under the current government, so imagine if an stranger controls them” that’s one of the important reasons people argue against joining the EU, they don’t trust that leaders and don’t want others to decide for them, losing so, it’s sovereignty. The debate is there, facing the ones who do want to join it arguing that cooperation with their neighbours would be beneficial for the country.

Oil market is in Norway the main income source, so they are constantly protecting and creating more industries around the world; they are expanding the market worldwide with factories in Brazil, US, Canada…they have to take the maximum profit of that because citizens are used to not pay most of the public spending, and it must go this way. However, the Government is aware that it is a limited resource so it’s starting to promote new sectors. Fishing and agriculture are two other important activities in Norway and they need to improve these industries, as well as the service sector, which he considers Norway should follow Spain as an example. The starting point to all this, is education. Addressing education to new ways of creating jobs is the main aim nowadays and what makes a country successful in a future, to invest in business venture is extremely important. Norway will probably have no problems achieving it as their system is one of the most stable and safe of the world, having high live standard. The thing is that they are used to live this way and to maintain these levels is not an easy and cheap task.

Caterina Serra

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