DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Why would a wealthy country that is 9,977 kilometers away interested in finding peace for a poor country like the Philippines?
Norway has acted as facilitator in the peace negotiations between the Philippine Government and the communist National Democratic Front of the Philippines for the last 16 years.
The Royal Norwegian Government is also a formal facilitator of the peace talks between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. Norway is also involved in around 20 countries or regions with conflict.
This makes Norway committed to strengthen its bilateral relations with other nations, a foreign policy which, according to Special envoy Elisabeth Slattum, “has been based for more than hundred years on liberal values to make the world a better place.”
“And Norway is a very wealthy country. We’ve been blessed with natural resources and quite reasonable politicians so we’ve managed to build a society that is functioning and is wealthy. So Norwegians feel that we have a moral obligation to contribute to other countries that have not been as blessed,” she said in an interview in Oslo, Norway on Oct. 10 after the conclusion of the second round of talks between the Philippine government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.
Norway, Slattum said, believes that “conflict is a major obstacle to development.”
“So we actually believe that contributing to preventing or solving, conflict is a very cost-efficient way of fostering development,” she emphasized.
One percent of Norway’s gross domestic product is used to fund development projects, Slattum said.
In 2001, both the government and the NDF sought the assistance of the Royal Norwegian Government to facilitate the talks.
“We work with Parties in conflict that are not yet at the table and we try to bring them to the table,” said Slattum, noting that it is Norway’s best interest to help nations that are in conflict.
She added: “We live in a globalized world. Whatever happens on the other side of the planet will affect us. Conflict can affect us in terms of terrorism, refugee streams, drug trafficking, etc. So we also see now that it’s in our interest to prevent conflict even though they’re far away and we’re strong believers in dialogue as the means to resolve conflict.” (davaotoday.com)