Statement by President von der Leyen with Norwegian Prime Minister Støre

(Source: European Commission)

Prime Minister,

What a pleasure to have you here. A very warm welcome to Brussels, to the European Commission. And first of all, congratulations on your sensational victory at the Winter Olympic Games, having won the most gold medals and medals overall in these specific Winter Games. So Norway is outstanding in any kind of winter sports, I know, but many, many congratulations from my side for that.

Indeed, we have a very special and very unique relationship. And this is not only due to the geographic proximity that we have, but also because there is a strong proximity, if I may say so, of values. We are very like-minded partners.

And this is of utmost importance in these very difficult times. Difficult times insofar as we see that Russia is attacking Ukraine, putting a lot of pressure since many, many years, having a hybrid war in Ukraine. But it is more than that. It is not only Russia that created this crisis by violating international law, by breaching any kind of commitments towards the integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine, it is also a time of crisis where autocracies are challenging democracies. And therefore, it is wonderful to have you as a like-minded partner here.

There are many issues we are going to certainly discuss. One issue will be energy. As we have seen, Russia has instrumentalised energy over the last past months, if not to say years, to put pressure not only on Ukraine but also on the European Union. And we are now really determined to get out of the dependency on Russian gas. And therefore, it is wonderful to have you here. You are a reliable supplier of gas. We could always count on you, you were always true in what you promised and offered. You were always reacting when there was more need of gas. So many thanks for all the support you have given us.

And we also share the understanding that, yes, gas is important and we need to diversify and modernise these systems. But over time, it is a transitional energy source. And over time, we want to go to the renewables. For us, the motto is very clear for the European Union: getting rid of the dependency on Russian gas and getting more into the renewables. These are our future. This is the strategic investment in our independence. And here, I know that we share also this prospect or the approach to these topics.

A very warm welcome here in Brussels.

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