Canons fired from the Akershus Fortress and helicopters whirred overhead as the president of Estonia arrived in Oslo Tuesday for a state visit. Tensions in Eastern Europe and an unexpected visit from the US president to Estonia, however, were cutting the festivities in Norway short.
Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves arrived in Oslo as scheduled on Tuesday but without his wife Evelin Ilves. The foreign ministry and the Royal Palace announced that several items on the program were being dropped, including a visit by Queen Sonja and Evelin Ilves to the Tomra headquarters Tuesday afternoon.
The entire visit was being cut down to just the one day, on Tuesday, but it was packed with the official welcome ceremony on the palace grounds, a meeting with the president of the Norwegian Parliament and with Prime Minister Erna Solberg. Ilves was also scheduled to give a speech at the Europe Conference 2014 at the University of Oslo and attend a gala banquet in his honor at the palace Tuesday evening.
Ilves was supposed to stay longer in Norway, along with his wife, but state broadcaster NRK reported that US President Barack Obama wants to visit Estonia later this week in connection with the crisis in Ukraine, so Ilves needed to return home to be his host.
Government minister Vidar Helgesen, who was in Ukraine himself on Monday, noted that the Baltic countries and especially Estonia have close ties to the Nordic countries. His state visit was meant to strengthen Estonia’s ties to Norway, Helgesen said.