Why U.S.-Nordic Relations Matter More Than Ever

The Nordic countries and United States have much in common. We all share the fundamental values of democracy, human rights, and the rule of law. We strive toward societies based on non-discrimination, equality and inclusion, regardless of ethnicity, sexual orientation or religious background.
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What makes your country prosper? What makes it resilient in a rapidly changing and challenging security environment? As ambassadors of the Nordic countries, we are often asked how our region has been able to stay relatively tranquil in an increasingly troubled world.

It is hardly a coincidence that President Barack Obama has invited the leaders of the five Nordic countries -- Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden -- to Washington on May 13. He will host a U.S.-Nordic Leaders Summit in the White House with close allies and partners to discuss issues of mutual interest and joint concern.

The leaders will debate the root causes of conflict, and how to create stability in fragile states and conflict areas, such as Syria and Iraq. They will also discuss how to manage the refugee and migration crisis, which has long-term and widespread implications. The crisis is rocking Europe at its foundations, and is a tragedy of historic proportions for people fleeing from war and destruction. We support President Obama's decision to host a Leaders' Summit on Refugees in September. As strong proponents of multilateral cooperation, the Nordic countries value President Obama's emphasis on a collaborative international approach to important global issues.

Other major topics of the summit are climate change, energy, the Arctic, global health and education, innovation, and trade across the Atlantic. These are all global themes where Nordic and American views, policies and actions often coincide.

The Nordic countries and the United States have much in common. We all share the fundamental values of democracy, human rights, and the rule of law. We strive toward societies based on non-discrimination, equality and inclusion, regardless of ethnicity, sexual orientation or religious background.

The Nordic countries have taken global leadership in gender equality. We were among the first in the world to grant women the right to vote. Women's influence in politics and social development has been very significant ever since. The prosperity of the Nordic region owes much to our long-term investments in our people, through healthcare, education and parental support. This insurance makes us stronger and less vulnerable as societies, but it also makes economic sense. Giving all an equal chance to take part in the workforce is profitable to the society as a whole.

The United States and NATO have for decades had a central role in maintaining and enhancing security in Europe. This is highly valued by the Nordic countries. Denmark, Iceland, Norway and the United States are members of NATO, whereas Finland and Sweden are close partners of the organization. Cooperation is comprehensive. Conflict prevention and resolution, international crisis management, disarmament, non-proliferation and the fight against terrorism are prime examples of widely beneficial cooperation in the field of security. As a whole, the Nordics are strong contributors to international security. We share the burden not only in our own region, but also globally.

Terrorism and violent extremism are major challenges for the international community. The United States and the Nordic countries work together in countering these threats. As members of the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL, our aim is to degrade the capabilities of and defeat this terrorist organization. Military efforts must be followed by civilian support and stabilization.

Nordic ties with the United States are strong and profound. Millions of Americans claim Nordic ancestry. A Nordic footprint can be seen especially in some of the northern states of the U.S. Thousands of Nordic companies -- and companies with a substantial Nordic ownership -- employ several hundred thousands of Americans. Nordic investments in the U.S. are counted in billions of dollars. The United States, as the biggest economy in the world, has a considerable impact on the economies of the Nordics.

The Nordic countries are small in size compared to the United States, roughly 27 million people altogether. Seen together we are, however, the world's 12th largest economy. We are modern and innovative economies with a highly educated population. These conditions have allowed Nordic companies to prosper in international business. We punch above our weight in innovations and cutting-edge technologies, to name just a couple of areas. We are also at the forefront of promoting sustainable development and sustainable management of resources.

Times are exceptional in Europe and globally. Challenges are best solved when we do it together. We need to continue our active and close transatlantic dialogue on a wide range of issues. The Nordic countries are ready for that. We look forward to a fruitful summit in Washington.

We, Lars Gert Lose of Denmark (@LarsLose), Kirsti Kauppi of Finland (@KirstiKauppi), Geir H. Haarde of Iceland (@Ghaarde), Kåre R. Aas of Norway (@kareraas) and Björn Lyrvall of Sweden (@Bjornly), want to hear your ideas and thoughts! Join us at our joint Twitter chat #AskNordicAmbs on Monday, May 2, at 2:30 pm (EST).

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