Before Hosting Obama, Ilves on State Visit to Norway (1)
Before President Toomas Hendrik Ilves plays host to three heads of state himself, he is in Norway for a short state visit at the invitation of King Harald V.
The trip was announced in June as three-day trip from September 2 to 4, but is being cut short so Ilves can host a meeting with US President Barack Obama, Latvian President Andris Bērziņš, and Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė on September 3.
Ilves' trip to Oslo is also on the current security situation in Europe and the Nordic-Baltic region.
Another difference according to the original plan is that Ilves will not be accompanied by First Lady Evelin Ilves.
Since the trip was first announced, it has been revealed that Estonia and Norway are both planning on being part of a six-nation European group that are planning to assemble a rapid-reaction force that was first reported in the media on Friday. The force, which would be under British command, would include the three Baltic states, Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands and the UK. Canada could also join. All three branches - air, sea and land - would be represented.
The force would be part of a larger strategy to shore up NATO's Eastern European defenses, which would include bases in the Baltic states and Poland, and act in the case of crises or other disasters. The agreement to form the force is expected to be signed on Thursday at a NATO meeting in the UK, after Ilves hosts Obama and his two Baltic counterparts on Wednesday.
Ilves will hold discussions with the Speaker of the Norwegian Parliament Olemic Thommessen, and Prime Minister Erna Solberg on Estonian and Norwegian cooperation and relations. He will give a speech at the University of Oslo, a lecture entitled "25 Years Later - Still Not Whole and Free!"
He will meet with members of the Norwegian and Estonian business community. A Norwegian-Estonian business seminar is scheduled for Wednesday, and a large business delegation has traveled with Ilves, including the Minister of Culture Urve Tiidus and the Foreign Trade and Entrepreneurship Anne Sulling, head of the Estonian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, among others.
Ilves, King Harald and Queen Sonja will lay a wreath at the monument for victims of World War II. The royal couple will hold a state dinner in honor of President Ilves tonight at the royal castle.