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The Man Behind the Nobel Prize


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the-man-behind-the-nobel-prizeFront Page Magazine:

Thorbjørn Jagland is an ambitious man. He’s been in politics all his life, and has never really done anything else. He joined the Workers’ Youth League – the junior division of the Norwegian Labor Party – at the tender age of sixteen, and his star has been on the rise ever since. He is now sixty-one years old, and has occupied pretty much every position of consequence in Norwegian politics – head of his party, president of the Parliament, foreign minister, and prime minister.

An impressive résumé. Another man, at this point in life, might decide to shift gears – write his memoirs, start a foundation, sit on a couple of corporate boards, give lectures, teach, ski, golf, build houses with Habitat for Humanity, whatever. Not Jagland. Such a man is hard-wired to keep climbing higher. But where to go next? When you’re a politician in a small country and you’ve already held every high office it has to offer, there’s only one way to continue to rise: look beyond its borders. Jagland’s predecessor at prime minister, for example, went on to serve as Director General of the World Health Organization and (currently) as a UN “Special Envoy on Climate Change.”


So it is that Jagland, in 2009, accepted the position of Secretary-General of the Council of Europe – not to be confused with the European Council. Unlike the European Council, the Council of Europe has no official connection to the EU and, unlike the EU, has no authority to make or enforce laws. It’s not a bad job at all – in fact, it’s a very nice start for an ambitious politician who is starting to spread his wings beyond his homeland. Still, a man of Jagland’s ambitions can’t help being acutely aware that it’s not quite the pinnacle of power, either.

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