(MENAFN- Jordan News Agency)
Amman, May 18 (Petra) -- Norwegian ambassador in Amman Espen Lindbeck has said that Jordan carries more political leverage than what would be expected by a country of its size – somewhat similarly to Norway, and serves as an important partner for international peace and stability.
Speaking to the Jordan News Agency (Petra) on the occasion of the Norwegian National Day, the envoy stressed that his country strongly believes that Jordan has a key role as the custodian of the Christian and Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem, and as a stabilizing actor, expressing worries about the recent developments in Jerusalem and attempts to challenge the status quo.
He said that the Jordan-Norway diplomatic relations go back more than fifty years, making the Embassy in Amman one of Norway's biggest diplomatic missions, which is a testimony of close bilateral relations, adding 'Our cooperation with Jordan stretches over a wide variety of fields: from a shared political vision of peace and dialogue with close and earnest political discussions, to a strong cooperation in sectors such as humanitarian response for Jordan's hosting of refugees, education, and lately within defence'.
'The successful state visit of their Majesties King Harald and Queen Sonja to Jordan in March 2020 further solidified this close relationship and friendship. The visit re-enforced our many common visions and goals, and an agreement of regular political consultations was signed,' he said, indicating that in March this year, His Majesty King Abdullah IIs visit to Norway once again illustrated the strong interest and genuine close relations at all levels, including at the very highest.
The envoy highlighted that in addition to the very close bilateral contact, Jordan is also an important partner for Norway at a multilateral level, as both countries are staunch supporters of a strong international legal order. 'This is also reinforced by Norway currently being an elected member of the UN Security Council, and with the new reality in Europe and the world after the devastating illegal invasion of Ukraine,' he said.
'As an important regional actor for stability and mediation, we consult closely with our Jordanian partners in matters related to peace and security in the Middle East and globally,' he noted.
Commenting on the refugee crisis, Lindbeck said that Jordan has over the years proved a generous host for many refugees from the region, providing safety and security to those who need it the most. He noted that the solidarity and humanity shown by Jordan, are important examples to look to in these times, and because of this, Norway has remained a consistent partner of Jordan, and has contributed with more than $200 million in assistance since 2013 towards humanitarian and stabilization efforts.
'We believe refugees should be provided with a dignified life until they are able to return. We have had a particular focus on providing cash-based interventions and innovative use of technology, an area in which Jordan has been playing a pioneering role, and which has been important in the efforts to ensure that humanitarian aid is effective and provides agency to the beneficiaries. Another core focus for our support has been ensuring the access to quality education for refugee children, whom have been granted access to Jordanian schools as a result of the common efforts of the Jordanian government and international partners,' he said.
'As the refugee crisis is becoming protracted, we have shifted our focus and increased our support to more long-term development, with a particular focus on education and employment, in addition to continued humanitarian support for the most vulnerable. We are therefore also supporting Jordan's efforts towards economic reform, sustainable growth and job creation with the World Bank. At the recent Brussels conference for Syria, Foreign Minister Huitfeldt underlined that Norway remains committed to providing support for the refugees Jordan is so generously hosting,' he added.
'Norway also remains a significant long-term donor to UNRWA, and we work closely with Jordan to ensure that the rights of Palestine refugees are respected and that their needs are met,' the envoy noted.
Lindbeck also highlighted that his country is also engaged in dialogue with Jordan on human rights, by supporting organizations and projects that seek to strengthen local civil society and respect for human rights in the country, especially women's rights and gender equality.
As for the bilateral economic cooperation, he said that their goal is to boost investments and job opportunities in Jordan, both by supporting Jordan's program of economic reforms and by promoting bilateral trade, cooperation on innovation, and investments from Norwegian businesses, pointing to the traditionally modest levels of trade and investment between the two countries, but voicing hope for great potential for expansion. 'Therefore, the state visit to Jordan was accompanied by a large Norwegian business delegation along with the Minister of Trade,' he added.
'Several Norwegian companies are however well-established in Jordan already. In January, I had the great pleasure to open a new production facility for the Norwegian company Jotun in Zarqa. Now, Jotun's world-leading painting and products are closer to the Jordanian and regional market,' he said.
On Norway's view on the Israeli-Palestine conflict, the envoy said that his country has a long history with engaging in peace and reconciliation between Palestine and Israel, noting that since the Oslo Accords of 1993 and 1995, Norway has chaired the international donor group for Palestine, the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC), with the aim of building up an institutional and economic basis for a future Palestinian state. 'Improving the situation for the people of Gaza is another priority,' he said.
'Moreover, our fundamental position on the conflict remains unchanged: Only a negotiated two-state solution will create lasting, sustainable peace between the parties. For a two-state solution to be sustainable, we believe it must be in line with international law. Norway has warned against unilateral action. Any annexation of land by force is unacceptable and in contravention of international law,' he stressed.
Speaking on the signification of the National Day of Norway, the envoy said that May 17, his country celebrates the Constitution day, one of the biggest celebrations of the year, centered around Children's Parades, marching bands and herds of people in national costumes filling the streets in all villages and cities across the country. The day honours Norway's Constitution of 1814 – the second oldest written constitution in the world.
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