Norwegian Culture Minister in an exclusive interview with The Oslo Times
Thorhild Widvey of the Conservative Party is the Culture Minister of Norway. Born in 1956, she is the mother of two. The Ministry of Culture is responsible for the policy areas of culture, church, media, and sports. The Ministry also is responsible for state lotteries run by Norsk Tipping and for regulating gaming and lotteries run by private organizations.
Widvey in an exclusive interview with the The Olso Times Editor-in-Chief, Hatef Mokhtar, talked about Høyres Landsmøte Conference, multiculturalism, persistent rise in extremism both religious and political, gender equality, human rights, and achievements of the ministry so far.
Following is the full transcript of the interesting interview.
TOT: May you tell us a little bit about this Høyres Landsmøte Conference?
Widvey: It is very interesting to be here and I think there are good speeches over a number of different subjects. There is a strong enthusiasm and interest for bringing up different kinds of subjects for discussions. We have good debates and eventually good conclusions. I really think this is a good platform for political discussions.
TOT: Since you are a Culture Minister therefore my question is related to culture. How do you see Norway as a multicultural country?
Widvey: There have been changes over the past years. More and more people are coming to Norway from different parts of the World with different cultural backgrounds. We really appreciate multiculturalism.
“More and more people are coming from across the World with different cultural backgrounds. We really appreciate multiculturalism.”
They also bring their colors, some cultural traits and values and we value them. It has been a very good trend as it keeps the door of culture open. It leads to good conversations, tolerance where societies open up. I think this strengthen the culture in different ways.
TOT: The entire Europe is faced with a persistent rise in extremism, both Islamic extremism and political extremism. Many Norwegians are concerned about the rise of extremism in Norway. How do you interpret it while keeping multiculturalism in mind?
Widvey: It is necessary to fight against it. I think dialogue is the best possible way out besides strengthening contact and conversations between people. There is the need for debates among different groups of people from diverse range of religions, believes and cultures. I am responsible for the course of Churches in Norway and I do see that bringing dialogue to the table is one option. People sit down and talk together and we can assure that we understand each other. Personally I think it has become a must to underline freedom of speech. And perhaps it is one of the best values in our country.
“Personally I think it has become a must to underline freedom of speech. And perhaps it is one of the best values in our country.”
If you don’t have freedom of speech then you don’t have freedom of belonging to any religious society either. I do respect people whose beliefs are different than mine and at the same I expect from others to respect what I believe in. To sit around a table and ponder over what should be our core and shared values is the solution. I do think this is very important.
TOT: What’s your view on gender equality? Norway is a country that defends Human Rights including women rights, children rights not only at home but around the World however despite that some women in Norway are not satisfied with share in jobs. What is your say?
Widvey: When people from other countries come here, they often come with different values. But when you move to another country you must respect and adept to what is happening in the country where you currently live. I believe in international values myself. I am glad that all children go to the same schools. We can fight against what is not acceptable to the society and we can strengthen our values. When I sit with women from different cultures where they believe in other religions than mine, I really find it interesting to talk with them.
TOT: We ask one particular question from our guest. The question is about Human Rights. May you tell our readers what Human Rights mean to you?
Widvey: For me Human Right means freedom of speech. Freedom to choose. A freedom where I can stand up for myself, my thoughts and express myself without restraints. And at the same time where I can urge other people to speak up for themselves.
TOT: Since the time you have assumed the office what kind of major breakthrough the Culture Minister has gained so far?
Widvey: Well, it’s a huge portfolio in the Ministry of Culture. We have for example sports, and culture. I am responsible for the cultural activities and for the media. There are also Churches and a number of other different religions. And I am also responsible for lotteries. We are in a stage in Norway at the moment where people would like to see some changes. We need to open up for more private capital financing the culture. The last ten years the public support for cultural activities has been increased. I think now it’s time to be more open for cooperation between the public and the private sectors.
TOT: You know that Nepal has been hit by a catastrophic earthquake. What is your sympathetic message?
Widvey: Yes I feel very sad about the human losses unleashed by the disastrous earthquake. Our sympathy is with the people of Nepal in this hour of crisis.
(Interviewed by Hatef Mokhtar, Editor-in-Chief)
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