Monday, May 23

Berntsen: – Jens has a CV that goes right through the brick wall

KNOWN AS “LEPPA FRA GRORUD”: Thorbjørn Berntsen is known for saying his sincere opinion. A British prime minister has learned that. Now he goes out with a powerful defense of his former state secretary, Jens Stoltenberg.

Labor leader Thorbjørn Berntsen (86) blows off the criticism that hails around a possible appointment of Jens Stoltenberg as central bank governor. – They have to choose the best, and that is Jens, he says.


– Jens Stoltenberg has a CV that goes right through the brick wall. That he is head of NATO has nothing to do with Norges Bank, so I do not emphasize that much professionally, when it comes to that position. But it is clear that it helps to have been the head of many of the world’s leading organizations for many years, says Berntsen.

But it is not Stoltenberg’s efforts in NATO that the old Labor giant is thinking about.

– It applies to all areas of society: He has been prime minister and finance minister – and even state secretary to old Berntsen he has been, he says and laughs.

Stoltenberg began his professional political career after the AUF era, when the then Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland in 1990 gave notice to his Minister of the Environment, Thorbjørn Berntsen, that he should ask Stoltenberg to become his State Secretary.

LYRIC DEFENSE: Berntsen quotes Nordahl Grieg in his defense that Stoltenberg.

Plus, not minus

Berntsen says that Stoltenberg’s long political career, including as prime minister and finance minister, must be seen as a plus, not a minus when choosing a new central bank governor.

– From joke to serious, he is definitely qualified. We can not disqualify him because his name is Jens Stoltenberg or that he is friends with Jonas, says Berntsen and continues:

– It is as Nordahl Grieg writes; that «we are so few in this country». It is almost impossible not to get to know each other. He can not be deleted from the list of applicants because Jonas is prime minister, it is not possible, Berntsen believes.

He says it is important to add:

– I do not talk down other candidates, there are other highly qualified candidates. But I think Stoltenberg with his experience background is the best.

– Easy to rule

– A large majority of the parties in the Storting think it is wrong for Stoltenberg to become central bank governor?

– It has nothing to do with his qualifications, but because he is from the Labor Party and has close ties to Jonas. It is easy to drive and rule with our political opponents.

CLIMATE COMPANIONS: Berntsen and Stoltenberg pictured at the annual meeting of the Oslo Labor Party in 1992.

– Is not that a problem?

– You can make a number of negative constructions, but the key must be that they choose the most qualified.

– The dinners that have been mentioned have built up under a picture of camaraderie?

– It is clear that there will be a fire, but everyone knows that they are close friends and that Jonas has declared himself incompetent. It is not he who will handle this, it is the Ministry of Finance, says the former Labor giant who in his time was called “lip from Grorud”, because he was often a bit big-mouthed. He once said this about his British prime minister colleague John Gummer: “John Gummer is the biggest shitbag I have ever met”.

In the Labor Party and the Socialist People’s Party, it is otherwise remarkably quiet.

There may be a clarification on the central bank governor’s issue in the cabinet tomorrow, but no one in the leadership of the two parties will say anything about the process, or when they will decide.

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