Today at 12:30, the Speaker of the Folketing (The Danish parliament) delivered a speech to the Storting (the Norwegian parliament) in anticipation of the 200th anniversary of the Norwegian constitution on Saturday. Mogens Lykketoft is only the second foreign person to the Storting: the first was Winston Churchill.
(I am indebted to my Danish contact and friend Troels Just for this translation. and for much else besides over an extended period of time. Troels takes a keen and perceptive interest in European and Scottish affairs.)
Speech to the Storting on the occasion of the 200th anniversary of the Norwegian constitution, Tuesday the 15th of May 2014.
(translation by Troels Just.)
Your majesties, Your royal highnesses, Mr. President (of the Storting) and Norwegian colleagues, Storting representatives, Ladies and gentlemen.
Congratulations for it, this week, being 200 years since 112 Norwegian men at Eidsvoll conceived and passed a constitution for the Norwegian people.
The Eidsvoll Constitution became Norway's letter of freedom.
The Constitution's founding idea of civil rights and popular elections set the course towards the modern democracy, and not just in Norway. Since then the rest of the Nordic countries set the same course, and in the most of Europe.
Preceding were 434 years of a common Danish-Norwegian realm.
Many of our common historical characters - such as, for example, Holberg and Tordenskjold - defined themselves neither as Norwegian or Danish. We were twins. We belonged together.
But Norway was governed from Copenhagen by civil servants who were educated down there, no matter whether they were Danish or Norwegian by birth.
The absolutist central government did not secure for Norway real equality with Denmark.
Therefore, the thought of an independent Norway had long quietly resided in many Norwegian hearts. The thought flared up in full bloom when the Great Powers at the Peace of Kiel in January 1814 decided, that Norway were to be separated from Denmark to be with Sweden.
It says a lot about the cohesion between Danish and Norwegian that Norway - both during the struggle for the free constitution in 1814 and by the dissolution of the union in 1905 - chose a Danish prince as king.
Today - 200 years after our divorce - Danes and Norwegians have at least just as much in common as we did back then when we were a common realm. Our mutual relationship is far more equal. Yes, Norway has become the rich relative.
It is deeply anchored in the souls of our peoples that, that which comes from the sister country is OK. We hold no mutual mistrust and we make it a premise that the people of the sister country think, believe and act as we do ourselves. This immediate understanding, a stronger case of which is unlikely to be found between other nations in the world, is based on
that we so easily understand each other's speech,
that we are deeply shaped by the common history and culture,
that we socially, economically and politically has so much in common
that we trade a lot more between ourselves than with the rest of the world.
This community is not just something made up of Danes and Norwegians. It encompasses all of us in the Nordic countries, and it is not slowed down by Norway and Iceland being outside the EU, and Sweden and Finland being outside of NATO.
Since 1952 we have had the Nordic Council, and before the rest of Europe we developed the right to travel and work freely in our countries.
We are among the world's richest societies, and we have a shared agenda of welfare and sustainability. We are strong advocates of a commitment to international cooperation.
Together we are proportionally the world's biggest donor of humanitarian assistance and development projects.
We are at the forefront of international conflict resolution and we are furthering our cooperation also in areas of defence.
In the area of culture we have a lot of trans-national productions in the areas of motion picture, literature, music and art.
All of these examples underline the deep understanding between the peoples of the Nordic countries. With the events of 1814, the wild and warring years of our youth came to an end. The Nordic countries never again became an internal scene for war.
The last 200 years has certainly not been without challenges, but internally in the Nordic countries we have together created remarkably rich and strong societies. We will also in the future need Nordic cooperation to shape the international community. New agendas rapidly appear with strength. For example our common initiative in the Arctic area.
Norwegian democracy has over the past 200 years grown big, beautiful and strong.
In the middle of the unbelievable cruelty that hit the Norwegian people on the 22nd of July in 2011, the Norwegian democracy showed in unique and admirable ways to the world that, even the most horrible and evil impacts can be dealt with, so that the cohesion and sanity of soceity is strengthened.
Dear all Norwegian sisters and brothers:
It is with great joy and honour to be here today. Thanks yet again for the invitation to deliver the Folketing's and the Danish people's congratulations from the podium of the Storting to the Norwegian democracy and the Norwegian people.
From an honest heart, a giant congratulations!