Norway's PM calls for 'stronger multilateral cooperation' amid Covid-19 crisis


In an interview with FRANCE 24, Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg discussed the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic in her country. She also called for "stronger multilateral cooperation" and urged more countries to contribute to a multi-donor fund Norway has created at the United Nations to help developing nations deal with the consequences of the global health crisis.


Speaking to FRANCE 24 from Oslo, Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg said the coronavirus situation in her country appeared to be getting under control. "The numbers we have are not increasing, they are quite stable," she said. Norway has more than 5,000 cases of Covid-19 and at least 50 people have lost their lives.

Like many countries – but unlike its neighbour Sweden – Norway has taken strict measures to limit the spread of the virus. Since March 12, a nationwide lockdown has been in place and this has been extended until at least April 13. Asked about when the lockdown could be eased, Solberg said a decision would be taken on April 8, but large public gatherings would likely remain banned for a while. "I think it will be a long time before the next large concert or big party will go on in my country," she told FRANCE 24.

Asked about the prospect of a recession, Solberg said Norway was better equipped than most countries to deal with the economic fallout from the pandemic. "Norway has a very good financial situation; we’ve been trying to compensate businesses for their loss of activity and their cost levels and of course we are giving quite good benefits to people who are out of work in the short-term. That means that the long-term effects might not be as big as for some other countries," she explained.

Norway has set up a new multi-donor fund under UN auspices to help developing countries deal with the long-term consequences of the pandemic and has already given 150 million Norwegian kronor (€13.3 million). Solberg urged more countries to take part in the fund.

"What this crisis and the pandemic shows us is that we are so interconnected in this world that we need to work together. There’s no way that we can handle this crisis without having a stronger international, multilateral cooperation," she told FRANCE 24.

"I think that Norway is not alone... The whole world is facing a crisis... It hits all part of the economy, all segments of our society and the whole world at the same time. So it’s not just what we do in our country. It’s also what other countries are doing. I just hope that we will end up by cooperating more and not less because there are a lot of single actions that are decreasing cooperation these days where we really should be working on making the multilateral organisation function even better," she concluded.

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