Thorvald Stoltenberg is remembered as politician, mediator and great human
Thorvald Stoltenberg died on Friday morning aged 87. He is described as a skilled peacekeeper, a champion of the drug community and a warm human being.
– He became more popular than any other Norwegian politician I can think of, and was somebody people had great faith in. I think he more than anybody stands as the father of the country after the Gerhardsen era, says former senior diplomat Kai Eide to NTB about his longstanding friend and co-worker.
For a number of years, Stoltenberg was an important Norwegian diplomat, and a profiled politician for the Norwegian Labour Party. Ap-leader Jonas Gahr Støre also emphasizes how popular Stoltenberg was among people.
– To many both inside and outside Norway it feels as if one of our closest has passed away. He put people first, never gave up, knew everyone, and everyone knew Thorvald, he says.
Former Trade Union leader Yngve Hågensen hails Stoltenberg as being one of a kind.
– Thorvald was one of the few who only had friends. Through his personality, he gained friends everywhere, and everybody trusted him, says Hågensen to FriFagbevegelse.no (Free Trade Union).
Engaged in drug issues
He was also President of the Norwegian Red Cross from 1999 to 2008, the only who has been holding the post for three periods. He committed himself to the drug community and people on the outskirts of regular society.
– Many measures will live through posterity, but perhaps the most important is all the activities that were developed to help people who suffer from intoxicant abuse, mental problems or who have just been released from jail, says current Secretary General of the Norwegian Red Cross, Bernt G. Apeland, to NTB.
Stoltenberg himself described the demise of his daughter Nini as his greatest sorrow. She died 51 years old, in June 2014. Prior to that, she made a mark as an important voice in the drug debate in Norway. She was very open about her own drug issues.
Father Thorvald was very concerned that his daughter should not be remembered as a mere drug addict.
– I’m the father of Nini, and as a dad II want others to understand how brilliant she was” he said during the release of the book “Nini” earlier this year. The biography was written by musician and author, Lars Lillo-Stenberg.
Nini was his youngest daughter. Together with his wife Karin, who died in 2012, Thorvald Stoltenberg also had the children Camilla, who is a Director at the Institute of Public Health, and Jens, who is currently Secretary General of NATO and former Prime Minister of Norway for Labour. Jens Stoltenberg traveled from Brussels after this week’s NATO summit, and returned to Norway before his father died.
– Thorvald Stoltenberg died peacefully at home this morning, with his family around him, after a short period of illness, the Stoltenberg family informs NTB.
Since 2014, Thorvald Stoltenberg has cohabitated with film director Anja Breien.
Hailed by politicians
Prime Minister Erna Solberg (Conservatives) says Stoltenberg made a major and important contribution to Norway.
– We remember him as a Minister of Foreign Affairs and Peace Mediator, but first and foremost as a warm person, Solberg says.
Stoltenberg was Minister of Defense from 1979 to 1981 in Odvar Nordli’s Labour Government, and Minister of Foreign Affairs under Gro Harlem Brundtland in the periods 1987 to 1989 and 1990 to 1993. He was then renowned for inviting influential persons from around the Globe to his home for an informal lunch.
Former Prime Minister Brundtland says that Stoltenberg was a close friend and remembers her last conversation with him vividly:
– Gro, I’m 87 years old, and has lived a rich and wonderful life, he told her at that occasion.
– No task was too small or too big for him. Thorvald was unique in that regard, and is how I will remember him, as a great Minister of Foreign Affairs and close personal friend and colleague for so many years, she says.
Facts on Thorvald Stoltenberg
(Wikipedia, Store norske Leksikon)
- Born July 8th 1931 in Oslo
- Died July 13th 1931
- Thorvald Stoltenberg graduated as a lawyer in 1957, after studying in Austria, Switzerland, the United States and Finland.
- For a number of years, Stoltenberg was an important Norwegian diplomat and a profiled politician for the Labour Party. He joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1958.
- He served as a diplomat at several embassies, including Belgrade in Yugoslavia (Serbia) and Lagos in Nigeria. He was also an international secretary in the Trade Union from 1970 to 1973 and 1981 to 1983.
- Stoltenberg was State Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the period 1971 to 1972 and 1976 to 1979, in the Ministry of Defense for a short spell in 1973, and in the Ministry of Commerce in the period 1974 to 1976.
- He served as Minister of Defense from 1979 to 1981 in Odvar Nordli’s Government, and Minister of Foreign Affairs in two of Gro Harlem Brundtland’s Governments, first from 1987 to 1989, then from 1990 to 1993.
- In 1990 he was UN High Commissioner for Refugees. He was the UN Chief Peace Mediator in the Balkans from 1993 to 1996.
- From 1999 to 2008 he was the President of the Norwegian Red Cross, the only one who has held the position for three periods.
- In 2009 and 2010, he chaired the Stoltenberg Committee, appointed by then Minister of Health, Bjarne Håkon Hanssen, to consider measures to improve care of the most needy drug addicts in Norway.Among the measures that were considered, heroin-assisted treatment, an initiative that Stoltenberg supported.
- Published several books, including “The Thousand Days: Peace Mediators in the Balkans ” (1996, together with Kai Eide) and “It’s all about People” (2001). In 2009 he published the book “Conversations” together with his son Jens.
- Married to Karin, who died in 2012. They had three children: Camilla Stoltenberg (born 1958), Jens Stoltenberg (born 1959) and Nini Stoltenberg (1963-2014).
© NTB scanpix / #Norway Today