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Nobel Center a 'peace bridge'

June 11, 2005, 17:00 CEST

"Lucky are those who have supporters like these," said Nobel Institute director Geir Lundestad during the opening Saturday of the new Nobel Peace Center in Oslo. He thanked everyone who helped make the center a reality. Conspicuous placed in front of the center was the World Portal, made of aluminium from one of the main sponsors, Hydro.

Framed by the World Portal, Norway's King Harald cut the ribbon to mark the opening of the Nobel Peace Center, accompanied by six other royal guests of honor: Norway's Queen Sonja, Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit, as well as Sweden's King Carl Gustaf, Queen Silvia and Crown Princess Victoria.

Also in attendance was the most recent winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, Wangari M. Maathai, Norway's prime minister, Kjell Magne Bondevik, other members of the Norwegian government, and sponsors of the Peace Center. The guests of honor were encircled by Norwegian veterans of United Nations forces, which collectively received the Peace Prize in 1998.

Peace symbol

The opening of the Peace Center coincided with the Swedish royal visit to Norway in connection with the 100th anniversary of the dissolution of the union between Sweden and Norway.

On Friday, the new Svinesund bridge between the two countries was officially opened with a handshake between the respective kings to symbolize good relations. And during the Peace Center opening the dissolution of the union in 1905 was cited as an example of a peaceful resolution between two countries.

"Yesterday, we opened a bridge between Norway and Sweden," said the Norwegian Nobel committee chairman, Ole Danbolt Mjøs. "Today, the Nobel Peace Center is opened as a peace bridge to the world."

The driving force behind the establishment of the Peace Center was Nobel Institute director Geir Lundestad. He said in a speech that the new center will help strengthen Norway's association with the internationally recognized Peace Prize, which has been awarded by the Norwegian Nobel Committee since 1901.

He described his vision of the Peace Center this way: "I don't think there are so many saints among the Peace Prize winners. At least, they won't be portrayed at the Peace Center as saints. They are everyday people who have done something unusual for peace. We can all make a contribution."

'Lucky are those...'

Lundestad thanked the Norwegian government and Parliament, which have helped fund the refurbishment of the former railway station that now houses the Peace Center and contributed to operating costs of an exciting venue.

He also thanked the Peace Center's "global founding partners" – Hydro, KPMG, DnB NOR, Telenor and the Leif Høegh's Foundation – who through their contributions have funded the center's exhibitions.

"Everyone has contributed more than their original agreements. Lucky are those who have supporters like these," he said.

Peace Prize winner Wangari M. Maathai characterized the Peace Center as an extension of Alfred Nobel's wishes.

She said she was pleased about the recognition she has received as a result of the prize, but first and foremost was thankful that the prize had provided a springboard for her work on sustainability and democratic principles closely connected with peace. The new Peace Center will be an inspiration to all to contribute towards peace in the world.

Proud sponsor

"As the first company to sponsor the Peace Center, we are proud to have contributed to the realization of this project," says Cecilie Ditlev-Simonsen, head of Corporate Communication in Hydro.

Hydro's mission is to create a viable society by developing natural resources and products in innovative and efficient ways, and this augers well with the company's support of the Peace Center.

"The projects we are engaged in must be credible and relevant. With our mission to contribute to a viable society, there is little else more meaningful than to support peace. Peace is a condition for creating a viable society," Ditlev-Simonsen says.

See also:

Nobel Peace Center