Jens Stoltenberg (born 16 March 1959) is a Norwegian politician. Former Prime Minister of Norway and Secretary General of the NATO military-political bloc. In his youth, he adhered to leftist views, opposed wars, but in his mature years he headed one of the largest military alliances in the world.
Son of a feminist and a socialist
Jens Stoltenberg was born on March 16, 1959 to a socialist and feminist family. Jens is not the only child in the family, he has two sisters. Father Thorvald Stoltenberg was a member of the Social Democratic Party NPR (Norwegian Workers’ Party), served as Minister of Defense (1979-1981) and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Norway (1987-1989 and 1990-1993). Stoltenberg’s grandfather ended up in a concentration camp during the war, which left an indelible mark on the family. The father of the future head of NATO often liked to repeat that such a war should not be repeated.
Jens’s mother Karin Stoltenberg was a geneticist by education, but she actively built a career in the Norwegian Ministry of Children and Equality and promoted the femdom agenda (starting from equality between the sexes, ending with the legalization of abortion).
When Jens was born, his family lived in Yugoslavia – at that time, Jens’s father was the ambassador of Norway. Jens fondly remembers life in the Balkans, skiing in the Serbian mountains at Christmas and traveling. However, this will not prevent him from justifying both the NATO war with Yugoslavia and the subsequent division of the country in the future.
Much of Jens’s childhood and youth were spent in Oslo. It was in Norway that he graduated from high school and university. In an interview, Stoltenberg recalled that until the fourth grade he was not the most successful student in the class. Moreover, he could not even read and write.
However, the teachers helped the boy cope with difficulties and finish school. After Jens went to the army, where he served in the infantry. And in 1987 he graduated from the Faculty of Economics at the University of Oslo.
Jens sisters: drug addict and rebel
The elder sister had a great influence on the future NATO Secretary General. Camilla Stoltenberg studied at the Cathedral School in Oslo, where until the 18th century only priests were taught. At first, religious education was not a burden to her. Camilla even studied perfectly.
But as soon as she turned 15, the girl began to rebel: she left school and got a job as a ship broker (an intermediary between cargo owners and ship owners, organizes the transportation of goods by water). Camilla wanted to earn money so she could travel the world with her friends. And everything worked out the way she wanted.
Having traveled half of Europe, Camilla returned to Oslo. In the early 1970s, she joined the Red Youth socialist organization and actively protested against the Vietnam War. Jens also went to anti-war demonstrations, threw stones at the US embassy in Oslo and was a vocal opponent of Norway’s NATO membership.
As a teenager, Jens roared an anti-NATO song, the chorus of which was: “Singing Norway, Norway outside NATO.”
The younger sister of Nini Stoltenberg was a TV presenter. But popularity fell on her after the girl publicly admitted that she was using drugs. After this broadcast, Nini vehemently criticized the Norwegian drug policy, and even the unofficial status of the defender of the rights of all Norwegian drug addicts was assigned to her. In 2014, Nini died after a long illness.
Premier races and friendship with Russia
At the age of 20, Stoltenberg got a part-time job as a journalist for the local labor newspaper Arbeiderbladet. He worked there from 1979 to 1981. Even in his student years – from 1985 to 1989 – Jens led the youth wing of the Norwegian Workers’ Party.
It is not known for certain what played into the hands of the novice politician, the support of his father or remarkable talents, but then his career began to develop rapidly.
Already in 1990, Jens received the position of State Secretary of the Ministry of the Environment. In 1993, the young man was elected a deputy and in the same year was appointed Minister of Industry and Energy.
In 1996, Jens took over as finance minister. After serving four years, Stoltenberg became the youngest Prime Minister of Norway in the history of the country. Stoltenberg was called the “Norwegian Tony Blair”, and the future NATO Secretary General himself did not hide that he was equal to the British politician. However, Stoltenberg’s economic and tax reforms were unsuccessful. His party lost votes, and the politician had to leave the post of prime minister.
It was possible to catch up already in 2005. Then, having enlisted the support of socialists and centrists, Stoltenberg again became prime minister. In 2009, he managed to repeat this success. Since then, the politician has gained the reputation of a man who knows how to negotiate with the Russians.
This has been helped by a long-standing dispute. Since the 1970s, Norway and Russia have not been able to share borders in the Barents Sea. No one’s territory occupied more than 10% of its entire area (or 175,000 sq. km). Moreover, geologists have found large gas fields there.
It was impossible to extract a valuable resource until the countries came to a consensus. In 2010, Stoltenberg and the then President of the Russian Federation Dmitry Medvedev managed to resolve a long-term conflict by dividing the “gray” zone into two approximately equal parts.
After the “Crimean spring” of 2014, Norway joined the anti-Russian sanctions and redistributed billions of dollars of investments previously invested in Russian securities.
A few years later, the 85-year-old father of Stoltenberg sharply criticized the sanctions against Russia. The wise politician warned that the punitive measures further alienated Russia from the West. And his son played an important role in this distance.
Ten days after the Crimean referendum, the NATO Council appointed Stoltenberg as the successor to the then Secretary General Anders Rasmussen. The most important direction in the work was called the policy of the alliance towards Russia under President Putin.
By that time, Stoltenberg, who had protested against wars and NATO in his youth, had already assured the United States of its readiness to increase security spending. He kept his promise: already in 2021, they grew by more than 50% (from NOK 43 to 80 billion, the exchange rate against the dollar has been in the range of 0.9–1.1 all these years).
Jens Stoltenberg continues to lead NATO to this day. It was under him that relations between the West and Russia degraded to an unprecedented scale.
Speaking about the conflict between the Russian Federation and Ukraine, Jens made a reference to his father Torvald and family history.
“Thorvald would consider this (military conflict. – Approx. "secret") terrible. He was a UN peacekeeper in the Balkans and was a direct witness to several wars – in Biafra, Nicaragua and the Middle East, his sister Katrin, whom Jens looked up to in his youth, said in a recent interview. “There was often talk in our homes about things that could start a war, about the horrors of war, and about how to make peace.”
- In his youth, Jens smoked drugs banned in the Russian Federation.
- There were rumors that in the late 80s, Stoltenberg collaborated with the KGB and worked under the pseudonym Agent Steklov. The politician himself does not recognize this fact. He only claims that, on duty, he communicated with diplomats from different countries. But inquisitive minds see a certain sign in the fact that in one of their favorite games – Age of Empires – the politician is registered under the name Steklov.
- Stoltenberg does not consider himself a particular denomination, but believes that God exists.
- Once Stoltenberg secretly taxied to “hear the opinion of real Norwegian voters.” The public relations campaign failed when it became known that 5 of the 14 clients were hired by the production company that prepared the event for the Labor Party and received a fee for communicating with the politician.
- Stoltenberg’s daughter Katarina is a member of the Norwegian band Smerz, which plays electronic music.