Envoy calls for Gaza ceasefire, global peace

Norwegian embassy hosts reception to celebrate Norway’s Constitution Day

Our Correspondent May 18, 2024
"Stop the Genocide in Gaza" Wall of Solidarity: PHOTO:


Norway's Ambassador to Pakistan, Per Albert Ilsaas, called for universal respect for international law, its consistent implementation, and the avoidance of double standards.

“We stress the importance of consistency – of treating like cases like – because of a strongly held belief in the importance of safeguarding international law”, he stated, with reference to the ongoing conflicts in Palestine and Ukraine. He went on to say that the two cases are not exactly the same given the Hamas terrorist attack on Israel that started this round of war in the Middle East. But the way that Israel had conducted the war had been very problematic in light of global norms, he said, describing Norway’s position on the war. 

The envoy’s remarks came at a reception he hosted to celebrate Norway's Constitution Day on Friday, while delivering a heartfelt plea for peace in Gaza. This national day, observed annually on May 17, commemorates the signing of the Norwegian Constitution in 1814 and pays homage to the royal family.

The event was attended by up to 450 guests including a distinguished assembly of diplomats, government officials, bureaucrats, the diplomatic community, journalists, civil society activists and notable figures from various sectors of society, all gathered to honour Norway's national heritage.

Speaking further on the Israel-Palestine conflict, Ambassador Per Albert Ilsaas said that there was regrettably some truth to the contention of double standards in the case of Palestine. “The responses by some Western countries to violations of international law in Gaza and Ukraine have been inconsistent,” he said. He went on to quote Norwegian Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide, who at a recent meeting in Riyadh stated that some capitals “have hesitated to use the same type of language against violations of international law [by Israel, in Gaza], for instance, that we easily apply when they are violated by Russia in the Ukraine”.

Taking up the Ukraine-Russia war, he acknowledged the arguments that are sometimes heard made that Western outrage over Ukraine supposedly is not driven by a genuine concern about Ukraine and Ukrainians, or by outrage over the crime of aggressive war and the war crimes committed by Russian forces, but rather by the pursuit of geopolitical advantage. “These are weak and wrong arguments,” he went on to submit. 

In a veiled reference to the position on the conflict in Ukraine held inter alia by Pakistan, the ambassador contested that there were capitals who remained reluctant to call Russia out over Ukraine, ignoring “the plain truth: that Russia started the war in blatant contravention of the UN Charter and accepted principles of international law.” He called for Moscow to end the conflict by ceasing its aggression and withdrawing from the territory it illegally occupies. 

“The Norwegian position is to insist that like cases are treated equally, and that all states are – and must be – subjected to the same rules. We try to practice what we preach,” the ambassador went on to say. 

“We condemned Hamas’ unacceptable terrorist attack on October 7 of last year. But we also, from early on, explicitly stated that the way in which Israel is prosecuting the war went way too far, and we have condemned some Israeli acts like the blockade of Gaza,” the Norwegian ambassador said, adding his country was the first western country to express a demand for a ceasefire at the UN and most recently Norway was a co-sponsor of the UN General Assembly resolution in support of granting Palestine full membership status in the UN.

Similarly, Norway also condemned Israel’s attack on Iran’s diplomatic premises in Damascus last month and the Iranian attack that followed a few days later.

Ambassador Ilsaas also highlighted the strong and robust relations between Norway and Pakistan. “We value them”, he said. Later on in his remarks, he talked about the friendship and trust prevailing between the two countries. 

He said that both countries celebrated 75 years of diplomatic relations last year and on that occasion Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre highlighted the arrival in Norway of Pakistani migrant workers from 1970 onwards who were the first non-Western immigrant group in Norway, quickly becoming the largest immigrant group in the country. Their contributions had enriched Norwegian society, the ambassador said. 

Ilsaas told the participants that this Feb the Norwegian renewables company Scatec ASA successfully launched $114 million 150MW solar plants in Sukkur, saying these plants are generating 300GWh of clean, renewable energy annually to power 150,000 homes.

The envoy also lauded Pakistan for extraditing from Pakistan of a Norwegian citizen suspected of involvement in a deadly terrorist attack in our capital, Oslo, in the summer of 2022.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 19th, 2024


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