Home / Agenda / Toespraak van Hare Koninklijke Hoogheid Prinses Astrid ter gelegenheid van de Belgische Receptie tijdens de Belgische Economische Missie naar Noorwegen, 18 juni 2024, Oslo

Toespraak van Hare Koninklijke Hoogheid Prinses Astrid ter gelegenheid van de Belgische Receptie tijdens de Belgische Economische Missie naar Noorwegen, 18 juni 2024, Oslo

18 juni 2024

Address by Her Royal Highness Princess Astrid on the occasion of the Belgian Reception during the Belgian Economic Mission to Norway, 18 June 2024, Oslo

Dear Ministers, friends, and esteemed guests,

A heartfelt « velkommen » (willkommen) to all of you and a particular word of thanks to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Norway, for his presence. It is a pleasure to stand before you tonight, with our Belgian economic mission, which represents not only a convergence of economic, political, and academic interests, but is also a celebration of the long-lasting bond between Norway and Belgium, based on a deep-rooted friendship, mutual respect, and shared values that bind our nations together. Our historical ties run deep, from joining efforts during the Second World War to being founding members of NATO and the United Nations. We hold in high esteem the courage and resilience of the Norwegian people during times of adversity. Together, we have functioned as bridge-builders, peacemakers, and mediators, on the global stage.

Today, we stand again together as defenders of freedom, democracy, and rule of law, in Europe and beyond. As neighbours along the shores of the North Sea, we have built strong cooperation and partnership over the years. For generations, the impressive Norwegian merchant fleet has been docking in Belgian seaports. Norwegian gas lands in the port of Zeebrugge, from where Belgian infrastructure and expertise distributes it to the economic heart of Europe. This long tradition of working together has resulted in trust, and confidence in each other's capabilities. Close cooperation and joint economic projects have been very successful and mutually beneficial. Our visit in your country aims to boost that.

Norway and Belgium have recognized the importance of sustainable energy solutions in driving tomorrow’s economic growth. Central to our discussions therefore is the pivotal role that Norway plays in the world's energy landscape, where both countries position themselves as innovation leaders. Many opportunities lie ahead. Just two weeks ago, I visited the site of four hundred windmills dotting our North Sea horizon, producing energy for 50% of Belgian households. They stand as a powerful reminder of the great progress we have made and of the pioneering spirit and ingenuity that defines Belgium's offshore wind energy sector and the clear ambitions that remain.

These wind parks not only serve as a source of clean, renewable energy but also as visible proof of our commitment to innovation and sustainability. We understand that Norway also wants to use the best technology available for its own wind parks as well as the highest standards of excellence that Belgian companies offer. We are grateful for the interest that Norway has already demonstrated in the development of Capture and Storage of CO2, in the development of our offshore wind on the North Sea, in the building of new direct pipelines, and hopefully soon in the Belgian technology to better connect all North Sea initiatives. In that regard, I am convinced that we stand at a critical moment in the economic history of both our nations.

These common decisions taken in the months ahead will shape the trajectory for future generations. This will need courage, conviction, and collective efforts for a clean and prosperous tomorrow.

We know that we are complementary in a broad range of sectors. For example: there are different sorts of wind with differences in intensity according to hour, season and location. However, we can install the technology, the platforms, and the infrastructure to match these differences. Wouldn’t it be great to help ensure stability of supply and price for all, through joint projects? The North Sea should bring us together again, so that “wind-wind” could become a new “win-win” for Norway and Belgium for our new economic history. Let us continue to expand our respective business communities in those sectors of evident complementarity. Because there is not only energy. For instance, our health sectors where both countries can work closely with the goal of a more patient-focused health, through prevention and the vaccine campaigns.

Ladies and gentlemen,

During this mission - and this is my sincere wish-, let us all try to be pioneers in bringing together more closely our respective ecosystems in all complementary sectors between Norway and Belgium.

As two fellow citizens Roald Admundsen and Adrien de Gerlache de Gomery did when they wintered for the first time in Antartica in 1898 paving the way for the Norwegian expedition that first reached the South Pole in 1911. This and other examples should inspire us for our common future.

Ladies and gentlemen,

For the eleven years that I had the pleasure to work with you for the economic missions, I have enjoyed the support by all our Ministers, by the entire business community and by all of you. For this support over all these years: a heartfelt THANK YOU. This afternoon we were in the Opera House and saw from a distance the Munch Museum. These and other architectural marvels grace the skyline of Oslo. They testify to a remarkable urban development and to the new wealth in this vibrant city. But also, to Norwegian’s love for art. Two weeks ago, I visited the largest collection of graphic work outside of Norway, by your famous artist Munch. You know where? In Antwerp, in a smaller but very intimate museum. On that visit, we inaugurated an exhibition by Norwegian Artist Vanessa Baird. I would like to wish her success with her upcoming exhibition in the Munch Museum.

In closing, I would like to offer a heartfelt "skål" to the enduring friendship between Norway and Belgium, and to the promising opportunities that lie ahead. May our partnership continue to flourish and thrive in the years to come.

Tusen takk. (TOAST)