Official visit to Ethiopia: State Banquet in Addis Ababa
Honorable President Mulatu Teshome
Ms Meaza Abraham
Ladies and gentlemen
It is a great pleasure and honour for the Crown Princess and me to be with you tonight in this historic palace. I would like to thank you, Mr President, for your warm hospitality.
It is exciting to finally be here, in Ethiopia – the country that I have heard so much about, but never before had the chance to visit. The country of our human ancestors, and the modern-day descendant of Abyssinia. The country that withstood numerous attempts at European colonisation – the home to nearly ninety nationalities, languages, customs and cultures.
Your long history and enormous diversity fills me with respect and curiosity. The Crown Princess and I are very grateful to have this opportunity to get to know Ethiopia – and Ethiopians.
My late grandfather King Olav V. paid a visit to Ethiopia and to Emperor Haile Selassie in 1966. They had first met some 25 years earlier in London, where they were both living in exile while their two nations were under foreign occupation. In Ethiopia, my grandfather was met with great hospitality as he visited Addis Ababa – and also made his way to towns further south.
Much has happened since 1966. Ethiopia is undergoing a period of great transition, and millions of people enjoy improved standards of living. Our relationship has endured and expanded into new areas, making the ties between Ethiopia and Norway broader and stronger.
Despite the apparent differences between our two countries, I have come to realise that we also have quite a few things in common:
In both our countries, our lives are closely intertwined with the nature that surrounds us. The forests, the fields and the mountains are a very real part of our lives, not just a beautiful backdrop.
We have a joint commitment to combating climate change and preventing global warming from harming present and future generations.
We have cooperated closely on addressing the financing needs for the ambitious Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals.
And we have a joint commitment to improving quality of education, with a special focus on girls’ education. This is a topic very close to my heart – also as a father.
International investment has helped to fight poverty in many countries. Norwegian companies are increasingly interested in the opportunities Ethiopia has to offer – also expressed by the Norwegian business delegation accompanying us on this visit. I find this encouraging, and I hope it will spur new partnerships and opportunities in trade and business.
The Crown Princess and I look forward to further exploring Ethiopian diversity, and to learn more about what our countries have in common and what is uniquely Ethiopian.
Please join me in a toast to you, Mr President, and to continued friendship and cooperation between Norway and Ethiopia.