Norway appoints former PM to head central bank

NATO chief and former Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg will take over as head of Norway's central bank "around December 1", officials said Friday, in an appointment that comes amid rising tensions between the West and Russia.

Jens Stoltenberg, current NATO chief, soon to be governor of Norway's central bank.
Jens Stoltenberg (pictured above in a file photo) has been named as the new governor of Norway's central bank and will take over at the end of the year. Photo by: HANNIBAL HANSCHKE / POOL / AFP

A former prime minister and finance minister in his native Norway, Stoltenberg beat out the central bank’s deputy governor, Ida Wolden Bache, for the job.

His appointment comes as Western nations fear Russia has plans to invade Ukraine, which aspires to join the NATO alliance.

The 62-year-old trained economist had previously stipulated that he would only be able to take on the new role after his term as NATO secretary general ends in October.

The finance ministry said Friday he would start at the central bank “around December 1”.

The selection process has made headlines in Norway, where commentators and politicians have raised concerns about political nepotism, due to the newly-appointed governor’s longstanding ties to the ruling Labour Party. In December, Stoltenberg said he had submitted his candidacy for the job after having been contacted by the finance ministry.

“The finance ministry contacted me in November to see if I’d apply for the job. I did it, it’s a position that motivates me hugely,” he told AFP via his press office at the time.

“I made it clear to the finance ministry that if I get the job, I wouldn’t be able to start work until the end of my NATO mandate on October 1,”
Stoltenberg said.

The current governor of the bank, Oystein Olsen, is to retire this month at the age of 70. Wolden Bache will serve as interim head, the government said.

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Norway and UK sign joint declaration on cooperation 

Norwegian PM Jonas Gahr Støre met his UK counterpart Boris Johnson in London on Friday, where the pair signed a joint declaration on strategic cooperation between the two countries. 

Norway and UK sign joint declaration on cooperation 

Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre visited Downing Street on Friday and met UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, where the pair signed a declaration of cooperation between the two countries. 

“Britain is a good neighbour and close ally. We have a long tradition of close cooperation. The British are now outside the EU, and bilateral cooperation is becoming even more important than before,” Støre said in a statement on the government’s website

The joint declaration on bilateral strategic cooperation outlines defence and security, the climate and environment, research and innovation and education and culture as issues the two countries wish to cooperate on in the future. 

Støre’s visit was the first bilateral meeting of the countries’ PMs since Brexit. The pair also discussed the green shift, the war in Ukraine and defence. 

Støre also arranged a round table conference on energy, the climate and business with the UK Minister of Trade, Kwasi Kwarteng, and a number of representatives from Norwegian and British firms. 

“The green transition is important for our two countries. I spoke about our great ambitions for offshore wind, and this is one of many areas where Norway and the United Kingdom can cooperate more,” Støre said. 

Earlier this week, the Norwegian government announced that it would build 1,500 offshore wind turbines by 2040

Last year, the UK and Norway signed a post-Brexit trade deal, which the Norwegian government said was the largest free trade agreement the country had entered into outside of its arrangement with the European Economic Area.