Parliament opens with talk on terror

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King Harald V formally opened Norway’s 156th session of Parliament on Monday by reading aloud the traditional trontalen (the speech from the throne) on behalf of the government. This year it centered on the terrorist attacks of July 22, and how the government is responding.

The 156th session of Norway's Parliament (Stortinget) opened on Monday. PHOTO: Views and News

The attacks, intoned the country’s monarch, “were directed against Utøya and Regjeringskvartalet (the island and government complex that were the targets of the terrorist) but they hit all of Norway. The Norwegian people answered by embracing democracy. Out of the evil grew a strong people’s will towards solidarity, openness and participation.”

The government, King Harald said, will now work towards improving preparedness and security. He said Norwegians must also continue to mobilize fellowship and help the healing process to rebuild confidence after the tragedy.

The government, he said, will carefully examine preparedness before July 22 and evaluate the need for increased resources and possible changes in current law regarding terrorism.

The terrorist attacks weren’t the only subjects of the formal address, read by the king while government ministers stood at attention. The annual address on the opening day of parliament is meant to summarize what the government plans to emphasize during the coming year. While terrorism measures are high on the agenda, King Harald read how the government also aims to maintain the lowest unemployment level in Europe while “defending and renewing … the world’s best welfare system.”

The government, he read, will also work towards “active business policies” and “new strategies” for the travel and mining industries. Offshore oil and gas exploration activity will also be maintained. “It is a goal to increase the degree of extraction in existing oil fields,” King Harald said.

Efforts will also be made, the king said, to provide “balanced and controlled immigration” and ways of succeeding “even better” at integration.

Opposition politicians, as is their job, criticized the trontalen for being vague and lacking concrete details on exactly how the government plans to develop its business policies, for example, and it contained nothing on the need for such things a more support for research.

Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg dismissed the criticism as “construed” and said that concrete proposals will come “by the kilos” when his government presents its state budget for 2012 on Thursday.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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