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Speech by Ambassador Kikkan Haugen 17th of May 2016 in Lilongwe

Last updated: 19.05.2016 // Ambassador Kikkan Haugen delivered a speech on May 17th as part of the celebration of Norway's Constitution Day. The day was celebrated both on the 16th of May with a traditional parade, speeches, songs, games for the children and hotdogs, ice cream and cakes and on the May 17th with a reception for national and international guests that took place at the Ambassador’s residence. Below are some pictures from the celebration and the Ambassador's speech.

Leo and Vilde gave a speech on the 16th of May
Leo and Vilde gave a speech on the 16th of May 

Selected pictures from the family event and the reception on the 16th and17th of May.

Speech by Ambassador Kikkan Haugen 17th of May 2016 in Lilongwe

Honourable Minister of Foreign Affairs Francis Kasaila, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, friends and colleagues, all protocol observed.

Welcome! On behalf of Jen and myself, I would like to welcome you to this celebration of the Norwegian Constitution Day in Lilongwe. It is very nice to see you all here; thank you all for joining us in our celebration of “Norway’s Birthday”!

Like last year, I will start with a piece of bad news. Tonight there will be plenty of music. There will be plenty of food and drinks. There will be plenty of nice company. But the speeches will be few. And they will be short. Sorry about that!

On that note, let me start with a vote of thanks. To my fantastic team at the Embassy. And the job you have done. Without you, this celebration would not have been possible. Let’s give them a big hand before the party starts!

Greetings to my Malawian friends: Zikomo nonse. Ndakulandirani kunyumba kwanga. Khalani osangalala

Greetings to my Norwegian speaking friends: «Jeg takker for hyggelig hilsen i anledning 17. mai og sender mine beste ønsker for dagen til alle som er samlet til feiring i Lilongwe. Harald R»

Last year, I spoke about the reasons for celebrating Norway’s Constitution Day. And how this is celebrated. With children eating ice cream and waving the Norwegian flag in colourful processions rather than military parades. A way to celebrate we Norwegians are very proud of and one that forms an important part of our identity.

This year I will speak about foundations. In his New Years speech a couple of years ago, our King Harald said something that strikes me as very wise indeed. He said, and I quote, “In the same way that love is a foundation in human lives, our constitution is a foundation for the nation of Norway”.

The Norwegian constitution is the oldest living constitution in Europe. Signed on the 17th of May 1814. That is 202 years ago today. The constitution was inspired by the French Revolution and the American constitution. It was the work of pioneers. In many ways, seen to be radical and progressive for its time, granting citizens liberties under the state. Our Constitution has also been described as a piece of poetry. Just listen to paragraph 96: “No one shall be judged but by law, nor be punished but by sentence”. What an elegant way to sum of the principle of rule of law!  In many such ways, though not all, it was progressive and forward looking. It laid the foundation for our independence, democracy, peace, stability and prosperity.

Enough about constitutions - let’s talk about love! “All you need is love”, The Beatles sang in the summer of 1967. Love is a place to focus your attention, sings the Norwegian artist Anne Grete Preus. And “love is a foundation in human lives”, said our King in his New Year’s speech in 2013. “It gives us direction, guidance and a reason for living”, he concluded.

I am a very lucky man – being surrounded by so much love and having my loved ones here in Lilongwe with me. Jen, Anna, Jørgen and Idun. And the latest addition to the family – little Ella Louise who is ten weeks, four days and 14 hours old – celebrating her very first 17th of May. If you hear her crying tonight, it is not really crying. It is her version of hooray, hooray, hooray.

Since I now have a British partner, Collins English Dictionary has become one of my most treasured possessions. According to Collins, love is defined as having great attachment to and affection for. I think all of us would say we love our dear ones, and even that we love our respective countries. But love goes further than that. I have great attachment to and affection for Malawi and the people of Malawi. My love for this country motivates me in my work. It makes me proud that Norway is the third biggest bilateral partner to Malawi. That our Parliament confirmed that Malawi is a focal country for long term partnership.

Love and affection includes compassion. And compassion leads to sadness and concern when things do not go well. That’s why we, as a long term partner of Malawi, care and raise our voices. When 17%  - and probably even more - of the population this year need food assistance. When the country has an economic growth that does not keep up with the population growth. When scrupulous and selfish Malawians steal public resources meant for the poor. When so many drugs are stolen or diverted instead of reaching the sick children, women and men they were intended for.

Norway is committed to Malawi. We will continue being a partner and investor in key sectors like education, health, agriculture and human rights. We will continue to work hard to bring private sector investment to Malawi. And we will continue to be a professional handler of visas on behalf of 16 Schengen countries.

And Malawi needs to do its share of the job. Fight corruption and theft. Reform public sector to make it more efficient. Protect the independence and professionalism of key institutions. Strengthen agriculture and livelihoods so Malawians become food secure and can escape poverty. And create an environment for investment that makes sure investments really come in. Not only promises.

Progress is being made. The situation is not black and white. I would like to commend the government of Malawi on the work you are doing. At the same time, I think we all agree that we are not there yet and that a lot of hard work remains. Under your leadership, but working together, we can make Malawi a great country for all Malawians. May the love we share for this country and the people of this country be our guiding light that ensures we stay on track and make the right choices.

I now ask you to join me in raising your glasses in a toast to His Excellency Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika, the President of the Republic of Malawi, and to the Malawian people.


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