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Jens Stoltenberg

Jens Stoltenberg
13th Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization
Assumed office
1 October 2014
Preceded by Anders Fogh Rasmussen
27th Prime Minister of Norway
In office
17 October 2005 – 16 October 2013
Monarch Harald V
Preceded by Kjell Magne Bondevik
Succeeded by Erna Solberg
In office
3 March 2000 – 19 October 2001
Monarch Harald V
Preceded by Kjell Magne Bondevik
Succeeded by Kjell Magne Bondevik
Leader of the Labour Party
In office
6 April 2002 – 14 June 2014
Preceded by Thorbjørn Jagland
Succeeded by Jonas Gahr Støre
Minister of Finance
In office
25 October 1996 – 17 October 1997
Prime Minister Thorbjørn Jagland
Preceded by Sigbjørn Johnsen
Succeeded by Gudmund Restad
Minister of Industry and Energy
In office
7 October 1993 – 24 October 1996
Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland
Preceded by Finn Kristensen
Succeeded by Grete Faremo
Personal details
Born (1959-03-16) 16 March 1959
Oslo, Norway
Political party Labour
Spouse(s) Ingrid Schulerud
Children Axel
Anne Catharina
Alma mater University of Oslo
Website Official facebook
Official twitter

Jens Stoltenberg (   ; born 16 March 1959) is a Norwegian politician who is the 13th Anders Fogh Rasmussen. Stoltenberg assumed his position on 1 October 2014.[1]

A member of the Labour Party, Stoltenberg was first elected to Parliament in 1993 for the Oslo constituency. He served as state secretary in the Ministry of the Environment from 1990 to 1991 and as Minister of Industry from 1993 to 1996 in the Brundtland's Third Cabinet, respectively. Following the resignation of Gro Harlem Brundtland in 1996, Thorbjørn Jagland became prime minister, while Stoltenberg was appointed Minister of Finance, an office he held until October 1997 when Jagland and the entire government resigned as a consequence of its 36.9 ultimatum. While in parliamentary opposition, Stoltenberg served in the standing committee on energy affairs. He became the parliamentary leader and prime minister candidate for the Labour Party in February 2000. Following a motion of no confidence against the Bondevik's First Cabinet, Stoltenberg was appointed Prime Minister in March 2000. The policies of the first Stoltenberg cabinet were markedly inspired by Tony Blair's New Labour and saw the most widespread privatisation by any Norwegian government to that date.[2]

After poor results in the 2001 parliamentary election, and the subsequent fall of his government on 19 October 2001, Stoltenberg successfully challenged Thorbjørn Jagland for the party leadership in 2002, serving as leader of the Labour Party from 2002 to 2014, and led the party to victory in the 2005 election by forming a red-green alliance government with the Centre Party (Sp) and the Socialist Left Party (SV), taking office on 17 October 2005. He was re-elected in 2009 for a second term as Prime Minister, but lost the election for a third term in 2013. He submitted his resignation on 14 October 2013[3] and left office two days later. From 2013, he served as a UN special envoy on climate change (global warming), and has previously chaired the UN High-Level Panel on System Wide Coherence and the High-Level Advisory Group on Climate Change Financing.

Stoltenberg has been described as a cautious politician belonging to the right wing of social democracy.[4] In foreign policy, Stoltenberg has been noted as a strong proponent of Norwegian membership of the European Union. In security policy, he favours both increased military spending and dialogue.[5]

Stoltenberg is a member of the Global Commission for the Economy and Climate.[6]


  • Early life 1
    • Education 1.1
    • Early political activity 1.2
  • Early career 2
  • Political career in Norway 3
    • Minister of Finance 3.1
    • First term as Prime Minister 3.2
    • Party leader election 3.3
    • Second term as Prime Minister 3.4
    • 22 July 2011 terror attacks 3.5
    • 2013 election and defeat 3.6
  • NATO Secretary General 4
    • Policies toward Russia 4.1
  • Policies as Prime Minister 5
    • Defence and foreign politics 5.1
    • The financial crisis 5.2
    • Environment and climate change 5.3
    • Vaccines 5.4
  • Personal life 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8

Early life

Jens Stoltenberg was born 16 March 1959 in Oslo into the Stoltenberg family, whose family name is derived from Stoltenberg in northern Germany. His father, Thorvald Stoltenberg (born 1931), was a prominent Labour party politician who served as ambassador, as defence minister and as foreign minister. His mother, Karin Stoltenberg (née Heiberg; 1931–2012), was a geneticist who served as state secretary in multiple governments during the 1980s.[7] Marianne Heiberg, married to former Foreign Minister Johan Jørgen Holst, was his maternal aunt. Jens lived in Serbia from 1960 to 1963 while his father was Ambassador to Yugoslavia.[8]


Stoltenberg attended primary school at Oslo Waldorf School, and upper secondary school at Oslo Cathedral School. He served his mandatory military service with the Army's Infantry Training Centre at Evjemoen in Aust-Agder.

After leaving the army, Stoltenberg enrolled at the University of Oslo, graduating in 1987 with the cand.oecon. degree in economics. The title of his thesis was Makroøkonomisk planlegging under usikkerhet; en empirisk analyse ("Macroeconomic planning under uncertainty; an empirical analysis").[9]

Early political activity

Stoltenberg's first steps into politics came in his early teens, when he was influenced by his sister Camilla, who at the time was a member of the then Marxist-Leninist group Red Youth. Opposition to the Vietnam War was his triggering motivation. Following heavy bombing raids against the North Vietnamese port city of Hai Phong at the end of the Vietnam War, he participated in protest rallies targeting the United States Embassy in Oslo. On at least one occasion embassy windows were broken by stone-throwing protesters. Several of Stoltenberg's friends were arrested by the police after these events.[10]

Early career

From 1979 to 1981 Stoltenberg was a journalist for Arbeiderbladet; and between 1985 and 1989 he was the leader of the Workers' Youth League. From 1989 to 1990 he worked as an Executive Officer for Statistics Norway, Norway's central institution for producing official statistics. He also worked part-time as an hourly paid instructor at the University of Oslo during this period. Between 1990 and 1992, he was leader of the Oslo chapter of the Labour Party.[11] Up until 1990 he had regular contacts with a Soviet diplomat. He ended this relationship after being informed by the Norwegian Police Security Service his contact was a KGB agent, warning him of further contact. Stoltenberg's code name within the KGB was "Steklov".[12][13][14]

Political career in Norway

Minister of Finance

Before becoming Minister of Finance, Stoltenberg was Minister for trade and energy in Gro Harlem Brundtland's cabinet between 1993–1996.[11] In 1996 when Brundtland resigned, Thorbjørn Jagland stepped in for her and became the new Norwegian Prime Minister.[11] In Jagland's government, Stoltenberg became Minister of Finance.[11] On 29 September 1997, Jagland resigned because of an ultimatum he had issued stating that the cabinet would resign should the party receive less than 36.9% of the popular vote.[15] Labour only received 35.0%; true to his promise, Jagland resigned, and power was transferred to the first cabinet of Kjell Magne Bondevik.[16][17] After Jagland's resignation, Stoltenberg served as the of standing committee on oil and energy affairs in the Storting.[11]

First term as Prime Minister

In 2000 the first cabinet of Bondevik resigned following an unsuccessful motion of confidence.[18] Stoltenberg's first cabinet governed Norway from 17 March 2000 to 19 October 2001.[18] Stoltenberg was the deputy leader of the labor party while Jagland was the party leader. Instead Jagland was given the post as Foreign Minister. Stoltenberg's first tenure as Prime Minister (2000–2001) was controversial within his own party, being responsible for reforms and modernisation of the welfare state that included part-privatising several key state-owned services and corporations. In the parliamentary election of 10 September 2001, the party suffered one of its worst results ever, winning only 24% of the vote.

The 2001 election met with instability for the Labour Party. The Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet stated: "We are heading for a political earthquake when the votes are counted tonight, if we believe the opinion polls."[19] In an interview with The Associated Press Jagland stated "It is unstable and unpredictable."[19] After the election in 2001, Stoltenberg and his cabinet were forced to resign, with the Labour Party suffering from its worst election campaign results since 1924.[20] With the 98% votes taken, the Labour Party only garnered 24%, falling from 35%.[20] Jagland, the Labor Party leader, commented on the results saying, "We will have to make a decision about whether to continue in government after we know the full results".[20] After the election Stoltenberg said, "What is clear is that this was a very bad election."[20]

Several analysts has pointed out that one of the reasonable causes for their loss was that with only one year in power until the next election, more time was spent initiating or trying to start reforms than telling the people why they had to be done. Such reforms included selling down in state-owned companies, re-organisation of health care and public hospitals and changes in sick pay. The changes made from the 2001 election to the 2005 election was by Norwegian newspaper VG described as an "extreme makeover".[21]

Party leader election

The bad election result in 2001 was quickly followed by a leadership battle between Jagland and Stoltenberg. Both Jagland as leader and Stoltenberg as deputy leader said they were open to be challenged for their positions at the party's congress in November 2002. Stoltenberg refused to say whether he would challenge Jagland for the leadership position which was seen by political commentators as a sign that he probably would seek the leadership position.[22] In the beginning of February 2002, Jagland who had been briefly hospitalized in January and had a subsequent sick leave[23] said that he would not seek reelection as leader.[24] In November 2002, Stoltenberg was unanimously elected new leader at the party's congress.[25]

Second term as Prime Minister

The Prime Minister shares a speech at Youngstorget, 1 May 2009.

Stoltenberg's second cabinet governed Norway from 17 October 2005 to 16 October 2013. The 2005 parliamentary election saw a vast improvement for Labour, and the party gained a majority in parliament together with the other "Red-Green" parties, the Socialist Left Party and the Centre Party. This paved the way for a historic first in Norway, with Labour joining in a coalition government, the Red-Green Coalition, after a coalition deal with Stoltenberg was struck. Since the government's formation, key political issues such as Norwegian military participation in the current war in Afghanistan, petroleum activities in the Barents Sea, LGBT rights, immigration and the quality of standard education have been greatly debated by the public. Following Stoltenberg's re-election in 2009, dealt with the ongoing global recession and championed for environmentalist policies through private and corporate taxation.[26]

Stoltenberg with Russian President Dimitry Medvedev, 27 April 2010.

A marine border dispute with Russia in the Barents Sea since 1978 was settled when Stoltenberg and President of Russia Dimitry Medvedev signed an agreement on 27 April 2010 in Oslo.[27][28] The agreement is a compromise, which divides a disputed area of around 175,000 km2 (68,000 sq mi) into two approximately equally sized parts.[29] However, the agreement still needs ratification by the State Duma and the Parliament of Norway in order to be implemented. Whereas Norway had previously insisted on a border in accordance with the equidistance principle, which is recognized in international law, specifically the United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea Article 15 and the Convention on the Territorial Sea and the Contiguous Zone Article 6, Russia invoked a Stalin-era decree of the Soviet Union from 1926, which was not recognised by any other country. The new agreement replaced a controversial[30] temporary agreement negotiated by Jens Evensen and Arne Treholt, who was later revealed to be a Soviet spy and who aided the Soviet Union in the negotiations.[31] Most of the disputed area was within what would normally be considered Norwegian according to the relevant international treaties.

As Prime Minister, Stoltenberg worked for a constructive relationship with Russia through dialogue and cooperation underpinned by NATO's deterrence and defence capabilities. During his tenure, he also emphasised the need to focus on security challenges close to Allied territory.[32]

22 July 2011 terror attacks

Jens Stoltenberg speaking at a podium.
Stoltenberg speaks at a service commemorating the one year anniversary of the attacks in 2012.

On 22 July 2011, a bomb went off in Oslo outside the government building which houses the prime minister's office, killing at least eight people while wounding others. About an hour later, a shooting spree, which killed 69 people, was reported at Utøya, an island forty-five minutes away where the ruling Labour Party was holding its annual youth camp. The PM was due for a visit at the youth camp the next day, and was in his residence preparing his speech at the time of the Oslo explosion.[33]

On Sunday 24 July, Stoltenberg spoke at the church service in the Oslo Cathedral. He named two of the victims at Utøya, Monica Bøsei, who was the camp's leader, and Tore Eikeland, who was the leader of the youth chapter in Hordaland. He again vowed to work for more democracy, openness, and humanity, but without naivety.[34] He also said that "No one has said it better than the AUF girl who was interviewed by CNN: If one man can show so much hate, think how much love we could show, standing together."[35][36] The AUF girl mentioned is Stine Renate Håheim interviewed by CNN's Richard Quest on 23 July 2011.[37] Håheim again quoted her friend Helle Gannestad, who had tweeted this from home, watching events unfold on TV.[38]

On 24 August 2012, 33-year-old Norwegian Anders Behring Breivik was found guilty by the Oslo District Court of having perpetrated by himself both terrorist attacks, the bombing of the prime minister's office and the shooting spree on Utøya island, and was convicted to containment, a special form of prison sentence that can be extended indefinitely—with a time frame of 21 years and a minimum time of 10 years, which, in all, is the maximum penalty in Norway.[39]

On 3 September 2012, Norwegian daily Klassekampen wrote that the Gjørv Report on the terrorist attack "is the hardest verdict against a Norwegian cabinet since the Fact-Finding Commission of 1945 ensured that Johan Nygaardsvold's political career was abruptly halted."[40]

Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg said after the Gjørv Report was published that he had "ultimate responsibility for the preparedness in our country, a responsibility I take seriously." But he said he would not resign.[41]

2013 election and defeat

Stoltenberg was the Prime Minister candidate for the Red-Green Coalition in the 2013 elections, seeking re-election for a third term.

In August 2013, Stoltenberg said on his Facebook page that he had spent an afternoon working incognito as a taxi driver in Oslo.[42] Stoltenberg said he had wanted to "hear from real Norwegian voters" and that "taxis were one of the few places where people shared their true views." He added that, before driving the taxi, he had not driven a car in eight years.[42] The event was videotaped in a hidden camera fashion, and released as a promotional video by the Labour party for the election campaign.[43] It was later confirmed that five of the 14 customers were paid and recruited by the production company that produced the event for the Labour party.[44][45] None, however, knew they would meet Stoltenberg.

On 9 September 2013, the coalition failed to win majority, with 72 of the required 85 mandates, despite the Labour Party remaining the largest party in Norway with 30.8%.[46] In his speech the same night, he announced that his cabinet would resign in October 2013.[47] Stoltenberg returned to the Parliament where he became parliamentarian leader for the Labour Party and a member of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence. In December 2013, he was appointed by the United Nations as a Special Envoy on Climate Change, alongside the former Ghanaian president John Kufuor.[48]

NATO Secretary General

Stoltenberg with Russian President Vladimir Putin in New York City, 2000.

On 28 March 2014 NATO's North Atlantic Council appointed Stoltenberg as designated successor of Anders Fogh Rasmussen as the 13th Secretary General of NATO and Chairman of the council, effective from 1 October 2014.[49] The appointment had been widely expected in the media for some time, and commentators pointed out that the alliance's policies toward Russia will be the most important issue faced by Stoltenberg.[50] Angela Merkel, the Chancellor of Germany, took the initiative to appoint Stoltenberg as Secretary-General, securing the support first of the United States, then of the United Kingdom, and then of all other member states.[51][52] Norway was a founding member of NATO in 1949, and Stoltenberg is the first Norwegian to serve as Secretary-General, although former Conservative Party Prime Minister Kåre Willoch was considered a strong candidate in 1988.[53]

Policies toward Russia

On 25 March 2014, Stoltenberg gave a speech to a Labour Party convention where he harshly criticized Russia over its invasion of Crimea, stating that Russia threatened security and stability in Europe and violated international law, and calling Russia's actions unacceptable.[54] After his election as NATO Secretary-General, Stoltenberg emphasized that Russia's invasion of Ukraine was a "brutal reminder of the necessity of NATO," stating that Russia's actions in Ukraine represented "the first time since the Second World War that a country has annexed a territory belonging to another country."[55]

Stoltenberg has highlighted the necessity of NATO having a sufficiently strong military capacity, including nuclear weapons, to deter Russia from violating international law and threaten the security of NATO's member states. He has highlighted the importance of Article 5 in the North Atlantic Treaty and NATO's responsibility to defend the security of its eastern members in particular. He has further stated that Russia needs to be sanctioned over its actions in Ukraine, and has said that a possible NATO membership of Ukraine will be "a very important question" in the near future. Stoltenberg has expressed concern over Russia acquiring new cruise missiles.[56]

Stoltenberg has called NATO "the most successful alliance in history," stating that "NATO has secured the peace in Europe since its creation, and the alliance has managed to adapt to new security challenges."[57]

Stoltenberg has called for more cooperation with Russia in the fight against terrorism following a deadly attack on the headquarters of a French satirical weekly magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris.[58]

Under the Stoltenberg leadership, the alliance took a radically new position on propaganda and counter-propaganda in 2015, that "Entirely legal activities, such as running a pro-Moscow TV station, could become a broader assault on a country that would require a NATO response under Article Five of the Treaty... A final strategy is expected in October 2015."[59] In another report, the journalist reported that "as part of the hardened stance, Britain has committed £750,000 of UK money to support a counter-propaganda unit at NATO’s headquarters in Brussels."[60]

Policies as Prime Minister

Defence and foreign politics

Secretary General of NATO Anders Fogh Rasmussen and Stoltenberg, while visiting Oslo talk with members of Telemark Battalion

While Stoltenberg was Prime Minister, Norway's defence spending increased steadily, with the result that Norway today is one of the NATO allies with the highest per capita defence expenditure.[61] Stoltenberg has also been instrumental in modernising the Norwegian armed forces, and in contributing forces to various NATO operations.[62]

Stoltenberg is a supporter of enhanced trans-Atlantic cooperation ties. He has also always been a supporter of Norwegian membership in the European Union.[63]

Stoltenberg has criticized Israel over alleged violations of international law in the Palestinian Territories as well as in international waters, such as the Gaza flotilla raid.[64] In 2006, Stoltenberg stated that "Norway condemns Israel's actions against Palestinians. Such collective punishment is totally unacceptable."[65] Stoltenberg praised doctors Mads Gilbert and Erik Fosse for their humanitarian work in the Gaza Strip during the Gaza War, stating that "all of Norway" was behind them.[66]

The financial crisis

Stoltenberg took an international role during the financial crisis by promoting international financial cooperation. This was among other arenas done through the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and a meeting in Chile 27–29 March 2009 where social democratic leaders from around the world met at a Progressive Governance Conference, just prior to the first G20 summit on the financial crisis. President Bill Clinton was among the delegates and panel that would chart a way out of the financial crisis, which included the host Michelle Bachelet, Britain's finance minister Gordon Brown, Brazil's President Lula da Silva and Stoltenberg. A special emergency meeting of the European Social Democratic Forum (PES) was gathered in Oslo in May 2011, on an initiative from Stoltenberg and the think tank Policy Network.

Both nationally and internationally, Stoltenberg emphasised the enormous costs the financial crisis had in the form of a high unemployment rate, and appealed for better international coordination, the balance between austerity and economic growth stimulus, active labor market measures for young people, and investments for increased innovation. Norway came out of the financial crisis with the lowest unemployment rate in Europe.[67]

Environment and climate change

Partnering with tropical countries to preserve more of their rainforest to bind carbon dioxide (CO2) in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions was a policy of the Stoltenberg government. In 2007, the government received support from the opposition to a long-term agreement to finance forest conservation with 3 billion NOK annually.[68]

Stoltenberg through his governing advocated that international agreements with global taxes or quotas are the most effective means of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. At the UN Climate Change Conference 2009, a separate proposal on the preservation of rainforests with funding from rich countries, advanced by Stoltenberg and Brazilian Pres. Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in 2009 obtained support from among others U.S. President Barack Obama during COP15 in Copenhagen.

The summit in Copenhagen ended without a binding agreement, but before the subsequent COP16 in Cancún, Stoltenberg succeeded then-British Prime Minister Gordon Brown in the leadership of the committee dealing with the financing of climate actions in developing countries, also consisting of Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. Under a separate forest and climate conference in Oslo in May 2010, a proposal was presented to a number of countries, with final delivery of the report in autumn 2010. A Norwegian proposal for global financing of rainforest deforestation with a strong focus on Brazil, Indonesia and central Africa was also presented.

In January 2014 Jens Stoltenberg became United Nations Special Envoy on Climate Change. During the meeting there he met with Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon as well as UN Framework Convention director Christina Figueres and both Achim Steiner and Helen Clark of the United Nations Development Programme.[69]


Jens Stoltenberg has been an advocate for having all the world's children vaccinated against infectious diseases. The first speech he gave in his second term as Prime Minister was during Norway's "Pharmaceutics days" in 2005 under the title "Vaccination against poverty". Stoltenberg was director of the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) from 2002 to 2005 and was awarded the Children's Health Award in 2005.

An international initiative, with the UK, the Gates Foundation and Norway in the lead, that GAVI received more than $3.7 billion until 2015 for their work against child mortality.[70] Stoltenberg was one of the key driving forces behind the initiative, and has stressed that this is an important contribution to save 9 million children from dying of the most common childhood illnesses.

In his New Year speech on 1 January 2013 Stoltenberg spoke about vaccination of the world's children as a personal matter of the heart. "Small jabs are giving millions of children the gift of life. Simple medicines can save their mothers. The fact that all these mothers' and children's lives can be saved is – as I see it – a miracle of our time," Stoltenberg said in his speech.[71]

Personal life

Stoltenberg is married to diplomat Ingrid Schulerud and has two children; a son, Axel Stoltenberg (born 1989) who is studying Chinese at the Shanghai Jiaotong University[72][73] and daughter Anne Catharina Stoltenberg (born 1992) who is studying singing in Copenhagen.[7][74]

He likes to spend his summer vacations at his family's cottage on the idyllic Hvaler Islands in the Oslofjord.[75] An avid outdoorsman, during the winter-season he is an active cross-country skier.[76] In December 2011, in order to mark 100 years since Roald Amundsen reached the south pole on skis, Stoltenberg journeyed to Antarctica.[77]

Although being portrayed as a staunch atheist for most of his adult life, and declining membership in the formerly official Church of Norway,[78] Stoltenberg has stated that he does not consider himself an atheist. He explained: "Although I am not a member of any denomination, I do believe that there is something greater than man. Some call it God, others call it something else. For me, it's about understanding that we humans are small in relation to nature, in relation to the powers that are bigger and stronger than man can ever comprehend. I find that in a church."[79]

He has one living sister, Camilla, a medical researcher and administrator who is one year older than him; and one late sister, Nini, four years younger, who died in 2014. Nini was a recovering heroin addict, and the Norwegian media have covered the family's efforts to cope with this challenge.[80] Jens Stoltenberg has admitted to using cannabis in his youth.[81] Due to this, he asked the Ministry of Justice and Public Security to evaluate his impartiality in the upcoming government treatment of the Stoltenberg Commission's (headed by his father, Thorvald Stoltenberg) report on drugs.[82]


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  40. ^ Overivrig "22. juli-kommisjonens rapport er den mest knusende dom en norsk regjering har fått siden Undersøkelseskommisjonen i 1945 sørget for at Johan Nygaardsvolds politiske karriere fikk en brå slutt."
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External links

  • Quotations related to Jens Stoltenberg at Wikiquote
Party political offices
Preceded by
Egil Knudsen
Leader of the Workers' Youth League
Succeeded by
Turid Birkeland
Preceded by
Thorbjørn Jagland
Leader of the Labour Party
Succeeded by
Jonas Gahr Støre
Political offices
Preceded by
Finn Kristensen
Minister of Trade and Energy
Succeeded by
Grete Knudsen
Preceded by
Sigbjørn Johnsen
Minister of Finance
Succeeded by
Gudmund Restad
Preceded by
Kjell Magne Bondevik
Prime Minister of Norway
Succeeded by
Kjell Magne Bondevik
Prime Minister of Norway
Succeeded by
Erna Solberg
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Anders Fogh Rasmussen
Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation

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