|The President of the Republic of Slovenia, Dr Danilo Türk, and his spouse, Barbara Miklič Türk, received Their Majesties King Harald V and Queen Sonja of Norway, who arrived in Slovenia on a state visit. Following a welcoming ceremony with military honours, the presidential and royal couples had a brief discussion. |
Afterwards, the Slovenian President awarded King Harald V the Order of Exceptional Services and Queen Sonja the Order of Exceptional Services, while the King of Norway conferred on President Türk the Grand Cross of the Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olav and on the spouse of the President, Barbara Miklič Türk, the Grand Cross of the Royal Norwegian Order of Merit.
|The conferral ceremony was followed by plenary talks between the delegations of the Republic of Slovenia and the Kingdom of Norway, led by the Slovenian President and the King of Norway. After the talks, the President and the King attended the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding on the Implementation of the Norwegian Financial Mechanism 2009-2014 between the Kingdom of Norway and the Republic of Slovenia, and the Memorandum of Understanding on the Implementation of the EEA Financial Mechanism 2009-2014 between Iceland, the Principality of Liechtenstein, the Kingdom of Norway and the Republic of Slovenia, signed on behalf of the Republic of Slovenia by the Minister for Slovenians Abroad, the Minister Plenipotentiary for Local Government and Regional Policy, Dr Boštjan Žekš.|
|In his statement to the press, President Türk emphasised that the state visit of the Norwegian royal couple carries an important symbolism, as Slovenia and Norway are close to each other in terms of their history and identity. He explained that both are committed to the common European identity, they are bonded by the memory of the joint fight against Nazism and Fascism, they are both members of the NATO Alliance and they represent many common views in international organisations. The President highlighted that in the last two decades the two countries have developed broad-based cooperation in areas such as concern for international peace and security, concern for solving humanitarian problems, the solving of human rights issues and international economic cooperation.|
|His Majesty King Harald V of Norway said that the origins of the friendship between Norway and the former Yugoslavia go back as far as the Second World War. He pointed out that during the Second World War, a number of prisoners of war from Yugoslavia were interned in Norway. When he asked them how they could have kept fond memories of this period, when they went through very hard times, and why they felt so close to Norwegians, they answered that they had been prisoners of war in many countries, but Norway was the only one that had tried to help them.|
|The Slovenian President said that both countries firmly represent common values, such as human freedom, human rights, peaceful international cooperation and cooperation in the interest of the entire planet.|
Slovenia can learn a great deal from Norway about how to contribute to the most constructive solutions to global issues, among which the President highlighted the common concern for climate change and the development of appropriate policies to mitigate the effects of climate change. According to President Türk, Slovenia can also draw from Norwegian experience in Nordic and polar cooperation, where promising relations are developing.
|The King of Norway said that the two countries cooperate in the NATO Alliance, as well as within the European Economic Area. He noted that 25 projects have been financed under the Norwegian Financial Mechanism in Slovenia since 2004, and with the signing of the present Memoranda, the financing will continue until 2014. These projects concern civil society, the environment, cultural heritage, gender equality, health and education. King Harald also mentioned the Slovenian—Norwegian business seminar to be held tomorrow, which he believes will contribute to the strengthening of economic cooperation between the countries. According to the King, there is much Norway can learn from Slovenia, especially regarding the construction of hydroelectric power stations.|
|President Türk emphasised in particular the importance of communication between Norway and Slovenia, which is facilitated by the membership of both countries in the Schengen Area. He also talked about the importance of the Norwegian Financial Mechanism and financial cooperation within the European Economic Area.|
He said that the signing of Memoranda today proves that this is an important area of cooperation between the two countries, where funds are ensured for projects aimed at developing the quality of life and common European identity. The President added that Slovenia is very satisfied with this cooperation and looks forward to its continuation.
|President Türk highlighted a humanitarian project for the rehabilitation of Palestinian children, who have been disabled due to military conflicts, as one of the concrete projects where discussions on cooperation with Norway are under way. A presentation of this project is also the purpose of tomorrow's visit of the Norwegian royal couple and Slovenian President and his spouse to the University Rehabilitation Institute of the Republic of Slovenia – Soča, where Palestinian children are being treated.|
|In the evening, the President of the Republic of Slovenia, Dr Danilo Türk, and his spouse, Barbara Miklič Türk, hosted a gala dinner in honour of Their Majesties King Harald V and Queen Sonja of Norway.|