Skip to content

From left: Pavlo Pynzenyk, Serhiy Alekseev, Ostap Semerak, Oksana Syroid, Oleh Bereziuk, President of the Storting Olemic Thommessen, Ingjerd Schou, Hryhoriy Nemyria, Ivan Kyrylenko and Geir Jørgen Bekkevold. Photo: Morten Brakestad/Storting.

“Openness and trust” are basic democratic principles

Olemic Thommessen, the President of the Storting, hosted a delegation of Ukrainian parliamentarians at the Storting on 18 January.

See pictures from the visit on Flickr. The images may be used freely if credited.

“Democracy does not arise on its own. It comes from within, and develops over time. Key principles in any democracy are openness and trust. It is important that politicians refrain from giving themselves privileges that increase the divide between politicians and the people. People must feel that democracy contributes to peace and welfare.”

That was the message of the President of the Storting, Olemic Thommessen, as he met a delegation of members of the Ukrainian parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, at the Storting (the Norwegian parliament) on Monday, 18 January.

The President of the Storting has been at the forefront of a Nordic-Baltic initiative towards Ukraine. Its purpose is to support ongoing reform efforts in the Ukrainian parliament as well as democracy building in the country in general. After the meeting, Mr Thommessen said:

“We had a good conversation. The Ukrainian members of parliament indicated that they were pleased by the support they receive from the Storting and the other Nordic-Baltic countries in connection with the reform process in the parliament.”

Listening to the people

In addition to the President of the Storting, Fourth Vice President Ingjerd Schou took part in the visit. She heads the Storting’s delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. After the meeting with the Ukrainian parliamentarians, she said:

“The Ukrainian politicians face many tasks at once. They must handle the crisis with Russia while building a democracy at the same time. My message to them was that political leaders have to respond to the basic needs of people. As parliamentarians we must listen to the people, build trust and deliver results.”

Geir Jørgen Bekkevold, head of the Storting’s delegation to the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, also attended the meeting. He emphasised that dialogue is crucial to building a functioning democracy in Ukraine. Inter-parliamentary meetings are important in this respect, permitting experiences to be shared and knowledge to be transferred.

“The Storting’s delegation to the OSCE can contribute by keeping the crisis in Ukraine high on the agenda of the assembly in the time ahead,” says Bekkevold.

Parliament as a model

The Ukrainian delegation consisted of seven MPs from four different parties. They had a common goal for the visit: to observe and learn. In focus was the Norwegian experience of building successful coalitions and achieving the population’s trust.

Norway has 200 years of experience in building democracy, and is now considered a modern, well-functioning democratic state. Oksana Syroid, Vice President of the Ukrainian parliament and a prominent reformer, said the Ukrainian MPs have a lot to learn from their Norwegian counterparts. She was impressed by one thing in particular:

“The Norwegian parliamentarians are not afraid to be open and show their human side,” she said. “There we have a lot to learn.”

New meeting in Kiev in February

All of the Nordic and Baltic parliaments are contributing to the initiative towards Ukraine. On 20–21 January, the Speaker of Sweden’s Riksdag, Urban Ahlin, will pay an official visit to Norway. Reform of the Ukrainian parliament and the country’s reform process in general are two of the topics that the two parliamentary presidents will discuss.

In early February, they will both travel to Kiev, along with the presidents of the other Nordic and Baltic parliaments. The purpose is to follow up the Nordic-Baltic initiative.

See also (in Norwegian)

Ukrainske parlamentarikere møtte stortingspresidenten 16.−19. november 2015
Ukrainske parlamentarikere takknemlige for støtte

Last updated: 19.01.2016 14:53