– The job you accepted was completely different from the job you already got

- The job you accepted was completely different from the job you already got

The time is 5:30 am in Edmonton, Canada.

A homeless man in the city woke up and crawled out of his sleeping bag. He balances on the fender, but gives up quickly.

Four sets of bodyguards gaze accompanies a creative morning gymnastics attempt. A few meters away, the man was running up the stairs. He breathes hard. It sits on top of the wooden stairs and overlooks the city.

– It was heavy, says the NATO Secretary General with a shiny forehead. Complete four rounds of stairs before 6 o’clock that morning.

Severe: Stoltenberg’s heart rate increases with steps.

Running the stairs: Jens Stoltenberg exhales after the morning climbs the stairs.

Running the stairs: Jens Stoltenberg exhales after the morning climbs the stairs.

This fall, Jens Stoltenberg, 63, begins his ninth year as NATO Secretary General. When he traveled to Brussels in the fall of 2014, he had already spent four years on the job.

visited 30 countries

TV2 followed Jens Stoltenberg closely when he was invited to Canada by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, earlier this fall.

Since he started his job, he has visited all 30 countries of the Defense Alliance multiple times.

Far North: Jens Stoltenberg and Justin Trudeau disembark from the plane at Cambridge Bay.

Far North: Jens Stoltenberg and Justin Trudeau disembark from the plane at Cambridge Bay.

The job you accepted was completely different from the job you already got

Jens Stoltenberg

We turn back the clock to the winter of 2014. The world’s largest countries, led by US President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, have long fought for Jens Stoltenberg to become the new Secretary General of NATO.

– Since the time I accepted, in February 2014, war broke out in Europe when Russia occupied eastern Ukraine and Crimea for the first time. In addition, the Islamic State has captured large parts of Iraq and Syria, Jens Stoltenberg tells TV 2.

Stoltenberg uses words like, “a job that is more important, more demanding and meaningful,” about the meaning of what happened since he said yes, until he actually started the new job six months later.

Flight: The NATO chief enjoys the cockpit with Canadian pilots.

Flight: The NATO chief enjoys the cockpit with Canadian pilots.

I was ready for the unprepared for new things to happen. It has happened.

The job is the same, but the tasks are solved in a completely different reality from what he was prepared for.

Russia in the North

The Canadian prime minister, confusingly resembling a slightly smaller version of Jens Stoltenberg, invited the head of NATO to the North Pole. The area became, after the Russian invasion, more and more important.

Cambridge Bay is a three-and-a-half hour flight from Edmonton. Prime Minister Trudeau and Stoltenberg sit in the front row of a military aircraft. Oil drips from the ceiling and the noise on board makes it impossible to talk.

Russia is developing and deploying more and more hypersonic missiles in the northern regions. These are weapons that fly so fast that it is difficult to bring them down.

Close Collaboration: Jens Stoltenberg and Justin Trudeau.

Close Collaboration: Jens Stoltenberg and Justin Trudeau.

Northern Region: Here in Cambridge Bay, Canada and NATO keep an eye on the activities of the Russians in the Arctic.

Northern Region: Here in Cambridge Bay, Canada and NATO keep an eye on the activities of the Russians in the Arctic.

The Russians are also testing new nuclear weapons that are hard to spot on radar, says Stoltenberg.

The Russians are active in the northern regions. They have conquered old and new military bases in the Arctic from the Soviet era, including airstrips and port facilities.

An ordinary day as Secretary General of NATO is exactly like this. Fly military planes, talk to prime ministers, presidents and defense personnel of the 30 member states.

Long day: Canadian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg arrives at the airport in Cold Lake after a long day in Arctic Canada.

Long day: Canadian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg arrives at the airport in Cold Lake after a long day in Arctic Canada.

Thorvald’s advice

He also remembers well the skepticism of his father, when it was decided to choose whether he should become the next Secretary General of NATO.

– Thorvald was very aloof at first, but eventually became very enthusiastic. And then he became an ardent supporter because he’s been into everything I’ve done in my entire life.

Jens Stoltenberg flips through photos from the day he left Norway.

October 29, 2014. Thorvald hugs his son tightly and ends with words.

Take care, Janes.

The door to the childhood home of Frogner in Oslo closes.

Goodbye: Jens and Thorvald say goodbye to each other with a hug the day before leaving for Brussels in 2014.

Goodbye: Jens and Thorvald say goodbye to each other with a hug the day before leaving for Brussels in 2014.

President Obama and other heads of state had commissioned Jens Stoltenberg to serve in Brussels for a four-year term, with the possibility of a one-year extension.

Thorvald’s most important advice has always been that I should listen to my heart, listen to myself, and not make things too complicated or be someone else’s me.

Gone are the tough face and serious features we see when he gives press conferences about Russia’s war of aggression altogether when he talks about his father, or Thorvald as he himself says.

I think it is easier said than done to listen to the heart. My heart and my feelings often say different things. Thorvald had a belief that people have certain feelings and instincts that must be listened to and affirmed.

Thorvald Stoltenberg died on July 13, 2018.

Father and son: Jens Stoltenberg has always listened to his father's advice.

Father and son: Jens Stoltenberg has always listened to his father’s advice.

This summer we saw it. Dad’s advice is to listen to your heart.

I’m tired of complaining

Jens Stoltenberg’s letter to the European Parliament was not misunderstood.

– He said we should stop complaining and start contributing.

He practically hit the table and gave an emotional answer to the MEPs.

– I was very annoyed by what I took to be a complaint question.

– There is a price we have to pay in Europe, but it is a price in krone and krone. Jens Stoltenberg says that in Ukraine they are paying the price for the losses.

He fears that the situation will become worse than it is today.

– I mean what I say intensely. It is very dangerous to begin now to suppress the brutality and gravity of the situation of total war in Europe. It could be worse. The war can go on for a long time.

He understands the people’s concern about the high electricity prices and the high prices.

There are enormous problems for Europe, but in comparison with the danger of a great war, we must understand what is most important. It is to ensure that President Putin does not win Ukraine.

secret room

After 10 hours in Cambridge Bay, in the deserted Canadian Arctic, the military plane set its course for Cold Lake. The largest combat base in Canada is located here.

All he has to do is change his clothes before he has to dine with the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister.

Along the short walk from the hotel is an arcade and a couple of neon signs indicating the opportunity to buy a hamburger.

Gatelings: There are a lot of people watching when the NATO President and Prime Minister are on their way to dinner at Cold Lake.

Gatelings: There are a lot of people watching when the NATO President and Prime Minister are on their way to dinner at Cold Lake.

Informal: The day ends with a casual dinner inside the Sawmill Prime Rib & Steak House with Secretary of State Melanie Jolie and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Informal: The day ends with a casual dinner inside the Sawmill Prime Rib & Steak House with Secretary of State Melanie Jolie and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Inside the Sawmill Prime Rib & Steak House, a baseball game is shown on television behind Justin Trudeau.

There have been many dinners and meetings with heads of state over the past eight years. Often in safer, eavesdropping-free rooms than this restaurant.

October 2021, four months before Russia invaded Ukraine, Stoltenberg gained insight into disturbing and secret intelligence reports in such a room.

The meeting: NATO and Canada meet in the officers' mess at the military base at Cold Lake.

The meeting: NATO and Canada meet in the officers’ mess at the military base at Cold Lake.

When did you realize there was going to be a war in Europe?

In October 2021 it dawned on me that there was an imminent danger of a Russian invasion. The intelligence was very accurate, concrete and well supported.

Stoltenberg never doubted that the invasion of Ukraine was Putin’s plan.

It is always possible to change the plan and it is possible to change one’s opinion. So, until the attack, there was little hope that the plans would not be carried out.

In the winter of 2022, all hope of avoiding war vanished.

The invasion itself, on the day it occurred, was no surprise, says Stoltenberg.

Laughter: There is a lot of seriousness about international politics, but Stoltenberg costs both smiles and laughter at Cold Lake Airport.

Laughter: There is a lot of seriousness about international politics, but Stoltenberg costs both smiles and laughter at Cold Lake Airport.

Good mood: Prime Minister Trudeau and Secretary of State Jolie are two of those who have a close relationship with the NATO chief.

Good mood: Prime Minister Trudeau and Secretary of State Jolie are two of those who have a close relationship with the NATO chief.

48 hours in Canada are coming to an end. The 63-year-old sits immersed in his own thoughts at Calgary Airport. The next morning, a new working day awaits in the Brussels office.

Fall 2023 is the provisional end date for Stoltenberg. It remains to be seen if there will be another extension or if he will return home to Norway next year. He will be guaranteed more decisions that require him to listen to his heart.

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Dalila Awolowo

Dalila Awolowo

"Explorer. Unapologetic entrepreneur. Alcohol fanatic. Certified writer. Wannabe tv evangelist. Twitter fanatic. Student. Web scholar. Travel buff."

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