Kjell Magne Bondevik’s Oslo Center celebrated its tenth anniversary with international dignitaries and the elite of Norwegian foreign scholars attending.
Former UN top Kofi Annan, Prime Minister Erna Solberg and Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjorn Jagland, who co-founded the center ten years ago, was present. The elite of Norwegian foreign researchers and international guests in Oslo were also attending.
Prime Minister Erna Solberg believes that the center means a lot.
– One may not take much notice of it in Norway, because their main focus is abroad. One needs intermediaries that allow people to talk and to ensure that processes are going well, says Solberg in a brief comment to the news agency NTB.
Oslo center was an innovation when it was established to promote religious dialogue and contribute to democracy building. The fact that the center would be funded partially by private sponsors, led to debate. Today, the center receives 7.5 million NOK from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for their projects. The rest of the budget, a total of scaunt NOK 20 million comes from other sponsors.
It is primarily democracy projects the center is doing today, currently in eight countries mainly in Africa and Asia but also in Europe, in the country Ukraine.
– We have helped several emerging, fragile democracies in getting the democratic institutions to function, says Bondevik.
He refers specifically to Somalia, where the center has helped political parties and drafted a new law on parties.
– I guess we have largely got what we have wanted, he replied to if there is something that is not going according to plan. But South Sudan is a big disappointment, he adds.
– We are in demand from a growing number, that is a probable sign that we have done something good. This is essential for peace, because in countries where people feel they have no influence, they will sooner or later rebel. It is often violent, he said.
In the Festschrift which was launched because of the anniversary, there was among things, pointed out that the democratic development internationally has stagnated, and that support for liberal democratic values is under pressure.
Source: NTB scanpix / Norway Today