Per Albert Ilsaas: Pak-Norway Have More Potential for Trade – Telenore to Stay here, Scatec ASA embarking on solar power plant in Sukkur

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Tazeen Akhtar

Ambassador of Norway to Pakistan, H. E Mr. Per Albert Ilsaas has said that Norway and Pakistan enjoy excellent bilateral relations. At the level of people, too, relations are close and very warm. The Norwegian-Pakistani diaspora, one of the largest in Europe, is an important bridge between our two countries and contributes to making my job as Norway’s Ambassador to Pakistan a rewarding and enjoyable one. Having arrived in Islamabad in October last year, I am grateful for the warmth with which I have been welcomed.

“A key priority for this Embassy over the next years will be to support, as best we can, representatives of business and industry from both countries engaged in trade and economic cooperation. Pakistan and Norway have the potential to trade more and do more business together.” Ambassador highlighted.

He was addressing the participants of a reception the Embassy hosted to celebrate Norwegian Constitution Day on 17 May 2022 in Islamabad. It was first in 3 years due to the pandemic that left the Embassy unable to organise a reception in past two years. It was very well organized and well attended reception. President of Azad Kashmir, Barrister Sultan Mehmood, Additional Secretary MOFA Pakistan, Dr. Israr Hussein, Chief of Protocol Mr. Ali Altaf, Federal Ombudsperson against Harassment of Women, Ms Kashmala Tariq, members of Parliament and other officials were present at the occasion. Ambassadors of European Union, Central and South Asia, Africa and other countries also attended the celebration. The weather was pleasant that enhanced the happiness of the Day.

Several former ambassadors of Pakistan to Norway, including Ambassador Riffat Massod and Ambassador Zaheer Pervaiz Khan were also present. The host Ambassador appreciated their contributions to building the good relations between our two countries.

The Ambassador shed light on the history of the auspicious Day.

” The Norwegian Constitution dates back to 17 May, 1814, in the midst of a “transition” from the Danish to the Swedish crown. Inspired by the American and the French Revolutions, the Norwegian constitution established the division of power between the executive, the legislative and judicial branches, based on the principle of popular sovereignty.” Ambassador noted.

“The Constitution also enshrined Rule of Law and human rights provisions such as the freedom of speech. Seen as progressive at the time, the Constitution has later been amended to keep up with the current understanding of universal human rights.” Mr. Ilsaas continued.

Norway gained full independence a short century later, after a referendum in 1905.Following the Napoleonic Wars, where Denmark-Norway sided with Napoleon, Norway had been handed over to Sweden as part of the peace treaty. The Norwegian constitution remained in place, but Norway was a subject of the Swedish Crown and Swedish Foreign Policy.

The Ambassador said “Norway has been enjoying peaceful and friendly relations with our neighbours for centuries. Our separation from Sweden in 1905 was peaceful. And our king-elect the same year was a Danish Prince.”

In Norway, the 17th of May is a day of celebration and appreciation of the values of Peace, Sovereignty, Freedom, Democracy, and Human rights. A striking feature of the Constitution Day celebrations is the children’s parade, which takes place in every single village and town in Norway. This year, a number of Ukrainian children have been joining hands with their Norwegian sisters and brothers in parades in several Norwegian villages and towns.

Mr. Per Albert Ilsaas, referring to Russian invasion of Ukraine, called the attention of the participants that In 2022, the international community again has been reminded most brutally that these values cannot be taken for granted.

He said “Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine represents an attack most cruel on all of these values. We had all hoped that the era of the international crime of aggression of trying to change international borders through the use of military force was behind us. Russia´s aggression is a clear and unacceptable violation of international law. It is a flagrant breach of the most fundamental rules of international relations: respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of UN member states. It demonstrates complete disrespect for the UN Charter, and poses a threat to the international order that was established after 1945.”

“Ukraine is defending today not only itself, but also our shared world order and the principle that relationships between states should be determined not on the basis of power, but by international law. Ukraine and the Ukrainian people have our utmost sympathy and admiration today as they valiantly continue to resist the Russian onslaught, at considerable loss of life and materiel, including civilians wilfully and deliberately killed and targeted in different ways by the invading forces.” Ambassador noted with grief.

The Ambassador, addressing the Ambassador of Ukrain, Mr. Markiian Chuchuk expressed deepest gratitude, admiration, and unwavering support from Norway side to the Ukrainian people, and its government and armed forces .

On Norway Pakistan relations, the Ambassador expressed his deep gratitude to counterparts at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the way in which he was received and for the good co-operation both sides enjoy on so many issues, week in and week out.

Ambassador shared that “Norway is a significant investor in Pakistan. Telenor Pakistan, represented here tonight by CEO Irfan Wahab Khan, is the largest single Norwegian investment in Pakistan, and one of the largest European investments. I am sometimes told by interlocutors I meet in Islamabad and elsewhere that Telenor is leaving. I think Irfan will not mind me saying that this could not be further from the truth. Telenor is here to stay. Today, it plays a role in creating a positive impact in the lives of over 50 million citizens of this proud country. It will continue to do so in the future. This is a matter of considerable pride for us here at the Embassy, even as we are a little envious of Irfan and his colleagues’ fantastic campus office in Gulberg Greens.”

“Another Norwegian company, Scatec ASA, represented here tonight by Country Manager Ijaz Anwar, is now embarking on a landmark energy project, the construction of a solar power plant in Sukkur, in Sindh, in partnership with the Pakistani company Nizam Energy. We are very excited about this project, which I had the opportunity to discuss in good meetings with Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah and Minister of Imtiaz Ahmed Shaikh in Karachi last week. It is an environmentally friendly project that, when completed, will generate 150 MW of renewable energy and create scores of jobs. I firmly believe that Scatec´s project in Sukkur will demonstrate to other Norwegian companies that Pakistan is open for business and welcomes Norwegian investments.” Mr. Ilsaas concluded.

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