H.E. Mr. Arne Sannes Bjørnstad, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Norway to the Republic of Croatia, visited the University of Rijeka on Tuesday, November 7, 2023, accompanied by Ms. Maja Dodić, Senior Project Advisor at the Embassy, and esteemed guests from the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Johan Løøv, Deputy Director of the Section for Southeast Europe, and Mr. Geir Håkon Johansen, Senior Advisor in Section for Southeast Europe.
As the University of Rijeka and/or its constituents already participate in numerous projects financed by the EEA&Norway Grants, the meeting served as an opportunity to discuss further funding possibilities and other joint projects. Namely, the UNIRI Centre for Urban Transition, Architecture and Urbanism (DeltaLab) joined forced with the Norwegian Centre for Design and Architecture (DOGA) and Snohetta Oslo AS on the ”Sense of Play” project, while the Faculty of Engineering in Rijeka cooperated with the Norwegian Research Centre (NORCE) on a green transition project ”Cost-effective Renewable Energy Harvesting in Croatian Islands (CRECI)”.
Having in mind that this year, the University of Rijeka became a part of the great North Adriatic Hydrogen Valley project, the participants discussed the new interests and ideas in Europe, especially since the European Commission’s aim is to accelerate the development and deployment of advanced clean hydrogen applications and strengthen the competitiveness of the clean hydrogen value chain across the EU.
Since the representatives of the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs are mainly interested in Southeast Europe, Rector Prijić-Samaržija pointed out the problem of brain drain in the region and the growing number of scientists who are leaving the Balkan countries despite all the activities and negotiations as part of the Berlin process.
As a lawyer in diplomatic service, the Ambassador brings wealth of experience to his new position. He joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1990 after graduating from the Faculty of Law Oslo as desk officer, and after spending some time as Ambassador to Serbia, Montenegro, and North Macedonia (2015-2019), he became Norway’s Special Representative for the Western Balkans in August 2019.