Managing funds is of great importance to Olympics’ success

What is like to be the monarch of a European country today? Very simple, particularly for us, as we are a relatively new dynasty, one which will be 100 years old in 2005 and which was elected by the people. When my grandfather was asked to be the new king of Norway, he replied, «Yes, but with elections.» The people decided, the constitution was drawn up and since then we have reigned without any involvement in the exercise of political power. My grandfather reigned for 52 years. He was very well liked and became a symbol for the stance he took during the Second World War, when he said «no» to the Germans. Since then, we have tried to do our job properly. Is this your first trip to Greece? It is the first official visit by Norwegian monarchs. However, we have been to your country on private visits. The last time was in 1996, for a holiday. As I remember, you went sailing. I love sailing, as does every Norwegian, and as every Greek does, I think. The voyages in the Aegean were wonderful. You have that excellent wind, the meltemi, which for sailors is a gift from God. I will never forget the colors of the sea and the beauty of your islands. Everyone knows that Greece and Norway have many beautiful islands. What is the purpose of your trip to Greece? Naturally, it is aimed at further strengthening our already very good relations, which we forged over many years, both by our common stance during the Second World War, but mainly by our common stance in the shipping sector. Greece and Norway are major shipping powers and our positions in international organizations are often identical. We have great respect for the Greek shipping industry and its achievements and I would like to take this opportunity to say that our country is sending several exhibitors, as well as our shipping minister, to the Posidonia shipping fair in Piraeus. In fact, our minister is one of the speakers at the Posidonia Maritime Forum. We would like our relations to develop in other sectors, particularly in technology and the environment. Why, as a country with such developed technology in public works and the environment, as in other sectors, has Norway not managed to promote its products abroad? It seems that while you are excellent scientists, researchers and manufacturers, you are not as strong in the sales sector. You could be right. However, we are trying and I think our relationship with the European Union has been of great help. This is why our delegation to Greece includes a large number of Norwegians from many business sectors. I must say that we have made great strides in cooperation with many countries. We hope Greece will be one of them. The Olympics are taking place very soon in Athens. What is your own experience of the Winter Olympics which you held in Lillehammer in 1994? How easy, or difficult, is it for a small country to organize such a large-scale event? The Winter Olympics are only a tenth of the size of the Summer Olympics. So it was much easier for us than it is for Greece. What is important, however, is how you administer the funds. We managed not to waste much money. The cost came to about 7.5 billion kroner and we managed to bring it down to about 1.5 billion from the ticket sales and sponsors. However, the organization was managed correctly and carefully, with the participation of the state, political parties and, above all, the people, who supported the effort to the full. The Winter Olympics were appropriate for the Norwegian landscape, just as I believe the Summer Olympics are for Greece, where they were born. I wish that everything goes well. In recent years there have been fewer and fewer cars in the center of Olso, and in a city of 500,000 people there are many underground streets and tunnels. Why have you done that? They say that Oslo has become like «Swiss cheese.» The type of soil in Norway allows us to open up tunnels whenever and wherever we want. I think it is very important to provide people with a better quality of life. And that means fewer cars, less asphalt, more soil, more vegetation. So the roads and the parking areas are built underground. On the surface, we plant trees and create gardens and spaces where people can enjoy nature and a clean environment. It is a way of building public works which we would like to export to other countries. We have the technology and we are able to help. In what other sectors could bilateral relations be developed more? (This question was answered by Queen Sonia.) On June 8, in Athens’s Eleftherias Park, I will open an exhibition by a famous and inspired Norwegian sculptor, Nicolaus Widerberg, one of Norway’s most talented. So culture is another area of cooperation. I am very impressed by how much Greeks love Henrik Ibsen, whose plays are often performed in Greece. In Norway we also admire Greek artists and writers, particularly the ancient dramatists.