A visit from our Minister of Foreign Affairs

Today, Tuesday 03.09.13, we were fortunate to have the Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Espen Barth Eide, as a guest at Sandvika School. Around 200 students gathered in the big gymnasium for this special occasion. Amongst other things, Barth Eide talked about Norwegian foreign politics, and what role we play in global issues, such as the civil war in Syria.

The Syria-conflict

The foreign minister told us a lot about the ongoing conflict in Syria. For instance he mentioned several oppositional groups’ fight against the government. He presented some facts and figures about the war in general, but also how the international society deals with this issue. For example how the members of the UN Security Council don’t seem to reach an agreement concerning whether they should support the opposition or the government. The question of whether the UN should intervene in the civil war in Syria is an example of how difficult it can be to reach a decision in the Security Council.  After the alleged use of chemical weapons by Syria night to the 21 August, where hundreds of Syrians died, the UN had their chemical weapons inspection team collect samples. Nevertheless, the question of intervention still divides the Council.

As Norway’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Barth Eide also focused on the part Norway plays in the conflict in Syria. After the use of Chemical weapons for the first time since the First World War, Norway thinks it is important for the Council to decide how to punish it. Despite having problems deciding what role they should play in the civil war in Syria, the UN Security Council can agree on the punishment.

Chemical Weapons

Barth Eide also mentioned the probable fact of there having been used illegal chemical weapons by the Syrian regime. The CWC (Chemical Weapons Convention) was an agreement signed in 1993 that outlaws development, production, stockpiling, transfer as well as use of chemical weapons, and Syria is one of five states that haven’t signed it, and one of seven that hasn’t ratified it. It is not 100% certain that chemical weapons have actually been utilized, but many tests have been made of things like soil samples and bodily fluids. Several people have reported witnessing the use personally as well. Samples have been collected and tests are currently being made.

What role does Norway play in foreign/ global politics?

Our Minister of Foreign Affairs, Espen Barth Eide, answered our question with the following: “For us Norwegians, it is important to pay attention to the bigger picture, the global problems, and not just the toll areas in this country.” (Eide, 2012) Furthermore, he said that because we in Norway have such high living standards and more than enough jobs, we also have to think about other countries in the world. There comes responsibility with being a wealthy and stabile country, and one of those responsibilities do concern the current situation in Syria amongst other countries’ as well.

For instance in Syria, the Security Council doubt on whether chemical weapons have really been used. Now, Norway and many other countries are almost completely certain that such action has taken place, and what they’re currently doing is collecting anything that can prove this wrongdoing. In fact, just yesterday, our minister of Foreign Affairs Espen Barth Eide and his fellow Nordic and Baltic colleagues were in a long conversation with the Russian minister of Foreign Affairs, Sergey Lavrov, on working together on proving this. Sergey Lavrov had also been one of their collaborators when the foreign ministers were making the policy on the use of chemical weapons. Espen Barth Eide made it clear to us that he and his colleagues were trying to convince Sergey into taking action with them. Consequently, based on these statements, we learnt that as a strong but small nation in this world, it’s very important for us to pay attention to all activities in the world. We must do so, because we have to make decisions as to what is best for Norway, but also what is best for the country the subject revolves around. After all, Norway is one of the major contributing countries and one of the biggest humanitarian countries.

The fact that the Minister of Foreign of the country took time off to visit Sandvika Videregående Skole is important. Even though the parliamentary election is only seven days away, he chose to spend a couple of hours here. We learnt a lot about how the foreign politics work, and what role Norway plays in global politics. He addressed a very relevant subject (the Syria-conflict), and how Norway handles the situation. He emphasizes that the people of Norway have to think more about the foreigin politics, especially in these election-days. This is an important issue, and really made us as students think that politics in Norway affects more than just the people of Norway.

(This text is written in co-operation with 3 other students)

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–          Kristin

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29 thoughts on “A visit from our Minister of Foreign Affairs

  1. Hi Kristin,
    I am Sam Lambson and I am currently at Dainfern College in Johannesburg, South Africa.

    We have been lucky enough to be paired with your school in what I believe is ‘Quad-blogging.”

    I have read your post on your recent visit from you Minister of Foreign Affairs, and I must say I found it most enjoyable to read.

    I too am not a person who takes great interest in politics, and did intern enjoy reading from your perspective.
    It has inspired me to take more of an interest in political discussions as you have shown that maybe there is a possibility that some politics can be interesting and very educational.

    So what do you believe the correct reaction from the UN should be with regards to the Syrian Conflict?

    Your unmet, future ‘Quad-Blogging’ partner and friend,
    Sam Lambson

    1. Hi, Sam!

      Thank you so much for the feed-back, I am glad that you found the post enjoyable. I am looking forward to the “Quad-blogging”, it will be interesting to get to know people from other parts of the world. Perhaps it can make it easier to get a “global view” on subjects, such as the Syria- conflict.

      It is reassuring to know that I am not the only one who is not very interested in politics. Nevertheless, I have begun to pay attention recently, as the visit from our Minister of Foreign Affairs really inspired me. Therefore, it is nice to hear that I can help inspiring others through my blog.

      I must admit that I do not know what I think the appropriate reaction from the UN should in the Syrian conflict. I have tried to learn as much as possible about this conflict, so that I can make up an opinion. So far, I think the best solution is to try to communicate with Syria, and make it clear that the use of chemical weapons is not tolerated. The UN could try to punish the Syrian regime through some sort of a sanction, or, as Russia has suggested, let the international society take control of their chemical weapons. Nevertheless, I am sure of one thing, and that is that I do not want there to be an international war. If it can be solved in more peaceful matters than the US interfering, than that is the best.

      What about you, how do you think the UN, and the world in general, should react to the Syrian conflict?

      Best regards from your Norwegian friend,
      Kristin Ulveseter

  2. I love the pictures. I just read about seria and I learned a lot from it. Just a few question, how far are you from seria. also does the distance of you and seria change anything you do in life. I live pretty far away from seria and i does not change much of my life. Im just wondering

    1. Hi, Jacob! Thank you 🙂 Norway is pretty far from Syria (situated in the northern part of Europe), so the conflict does not affect us directly. However, the Norwegian government is involved in trying to make peace in Syria, so we hear/ read a lot about the conflict, as well as the use and destruction of their chemical weapons etc.

      1. really!!! your government is in on it, and you are far away. do you have any idea of whatkind of chemical weapons they are trying to discharge them from using.

        im about to write my first blog on this site. what are something i should keep in mind when writing on this site.

      2. I am not sure of what kind of chemical weapons they used, but they are believed to contain nerve gas or mustard gas. In fact, Norway is so involved that we were asked, by Russia and the US, to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons, however I’m not sure if the Norwegian government decides to go through with it.

        You have probably already written a post by now, but the things I tend to think of when i write, is that the layout is well arranged and that there are few/none type errors. Good luck!

  3. hello, i am bryan i read your article and it really got my attention.i learned more about the conflict in syria and understand it better. i think that syria needs to stop using the chemical weapons and they should sign CWC to end the problem.what is your opinion to the conflict in syria? thanks for sharing this it really made me under stand better.

    1. Thank you, Bryan, it is nice to hear that you understood more by reading the article. I think our opinions are pretty much the same. I was very glad when it was decided between Bashar Al- Assad and Russia that Syria would give up their chemical weapons, so that they could be destroyed. Otherwise, I have to admit that I think the conflict is so confusing (both sides have some positive and negative aspects), that I find it hard to take a proper stand in the conflict. Thank you for commenting, it is nice to hear other people’s thoughts.

  4. Hello. My name is Erin, and I am typing from a local high school in a town in Illinois, in the US. This is a very good article! The picture too is a good one. I think the crisis in Syria is very bad. Having such an important person come to your school sounds very exciting! This post made me understand this situation better.

    1. Hello, Erin! Thank you so much for commenting, it is nice to get some feed-back. It was such an honor to have the Minister of Foreign Affairs as a visitor, I am glad that he took the time to educate students on such an important matter. It made me understand a whole lot more. Just a quick question, how did you find my blog? You see, our English class has a collaboration with four others schools, but I am not totally sure which. 🙂

  5. Hi Kristen, its KendallF6. Ijust ead your blog on the visit from the minister fo foreign affairs. it was really interesting and explained alot about what is happening in syria and also how it relates to kids like us today. I think it was right for the minister to come and take time out to explain what is happening in syria right now. I do think that syria is using chemical weapons and intends on using them on any american troops coming in to help. thats why its such a hard thing for our country right now to help out there. if we send troops on the ground, we’ll be attacked by the chemical weapons in syria.

    1. Hi, Kendall! Thank you for saying that, I like to hear that people can find my posts informative. You are right, it was nice, and smart, of our minister to come and talk to us, it made the me understand the situation in Syria better. It is good that Syria, Russia and the US have come to an agreement to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons, so that there will be no risk of hurting/ killing more people.

  6. Hello, my name is Teagan. I am currently studying at a High School in Illinois, located in the U.S. I read your article (and saw your picture), and I loved it. I enjoyed hearing about how someone so important was able to visit your school. I also agree that the situation in Syria is bad, particularly the part detailing the use of chemical weapons on the rebels. That was a horrific choice by the Syrian Government. I really hope that this conflict is resolved soon.

  7. Hey Kristin, my name is Angel, and i would like to thank you for sharing this with us. it really was a very nice post because i didin’t know how bad the civil war in Syria was. But now i know it is very bad because they are using chemical weapons on there own people. I think you did a very good job of explaining what is going on in Syria. I would like to thank you again because this post was very very helpful and gave me more knowledge about what is going on in Syria.

    1. Hey, Angel! Thank you so much for saying that, you make me smile. It is nice to hear that people appreciate my work, and that they learn more because of it. The conflict in Syria is bad, however I hope that they/the UN can find a solution soon, so that lives can be saved.

      1. Hi kristin!!!
        I hope they can find a solution very soon too. I don’t think it is right at all, to use chemical weapons. In my opinion chemical weapons are WAY worst then guns, or anything else that you would use for a war or, a disagreement. I think they should just talk it out and make a compromise or, an agreement to once and for all settle this dispute.

  8. Hello, my name is Dalen. I was reading your article above and it really opened me up to the conflict in Syria. I really had no idea what was going on there but the information you provided that the Foreign Affairs Minister talked about really gave me a good idea. I would also like to know whats your take or opinion on the conflict happening in Syria? Do you feel the conflict should keep happening or they should put a stop to it?

    Also go check out my blog posts over at http://kidblog.org/WorldAffairs2013-2014/author/37a44f43-8599-47ca-bcef-3ef11e08b009/ I will be posting within the next day.

    1. Hello, Dalen. Thank you for commenting. Honestly, I still find the conflict a bit confusing, so I am struggling with taking sides. Nevertheless, I think that the conflict itself is very sad, so I hope that the conflict will end soon. Hopefully the different sides in Syria can come to an agreement. I believe that we are a step closer now, than when I posted the article, because the Bashar al- Assad/ Syria have decided to give their chemical weapons to the UN for destruction. Do you have a take on the conflict?

      I would love to check out your blog.

  9. hello Kristin my name is mateo, I am currently studying at a High School in Illinois, located in U.S.A, i really like this post, it is really interesting to see how a really important minister came to your school and told you guys about the conflict in syria. I think you did a really good job but i was wondering, do you think this conflict will end one day? and why do you think they are using chemical weapons?
    thank you for posting your article i really like it.
    here is my school’s blog(http://kidblog.org/WorldAffairs2013-2014/) if you want to look for me my name is mateom6
    thank you!

    1. Hello, Mateo. I was also a bit surprised that our Minister of Foreign Affairs chose to visit our school, but I am glad he did. If he hadn’t then I would be almost clueless about such an important crisis. Firstly, I think that the conflict will come to an end in one way or another some day. Still, it is difficult to say how soon it will be, at least if you look at the ongoing conflicts in the Middle Eastern countries such as Egypt. When you think it is going to be better, a new conflict of some sort appears. Secondly, I think they used chemical weapons because of the injuries that were documented. As far as I know, other weapons do not leave similar marks.

      Thank you for kind words, I would love to check out your blog!

  10. Wow you did a really great job of explaining everything! you honestly made everything so much clear thankyou for that! Also, what an honor it is to have a person that is so important go and visit your school, it really sounds like fun and interesting. overall great job!

    1. Hi, Jocelyn! Thank you for kind words 🙂 It was an honor to have such an important person visiting us, no doubt. What I really liked about his visit, though, was that he was so god at explaining foreign politics and the conflict in Syria. He made it easier to understand the basis of the conflict etc.

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