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The US Embassy


Jan Borgen asks in Ny Tid 7.10 about the majority in SV's city council group has understood the seriousness when we do not want to vote to add the American embassy to the free area at Huseby. We have understood the seriousness, but will not hide that this is a difficult case. The entire SV city council group wants to move the embassy from Drammensveien. However, we believe that it is not insignificant where the new embassy is located, and can not accept that the Americans' only alternative in Oslo and the surrounding area is to build on a 40-acre recreation area at Huseby. The relocation of the American embassy must take place in such a way that the current security problems are solved without new and other inconveniences arising. Then locating to Huseby is not the answer.

SV always has placed great emphasis on preserving the city's recreational areas and green lungs, not least for the sake of children's growing up environment. The proposal to move the embassy to a recreation area at Huseby is in conflict with the national policy guidelines that require replacement areas when removing play areas for children and young people. The proposed replacement areas are not a good replacement – the areas are already used for play and sports, or are useless. The compensatory measures the city council has sweetened the pill with, traffic safety and clean-up of a littered free area, are largely tasks for which the municipality is responsible in any case.

From the embassy's side it is said that there is a general threat assessment behind the desire to move the embassy from Drammensveien. It is also emphasized that no specific threats have been received against the embassy in Norway. Following the bombings in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam in 1998, security at all embassies has been strengthened, as well as relocated from those believed to be vulnerable terrorist targets. The Americans have chosen different solutions to improve security – in Nairobi, a giant fortress is being built outside the city center, while in Bern it has been possible to move into existing commercial buildings – in the city center.

In The Hague in the Netherlands, the situation was similar to that in Oslo. The American embassy is located in the center, which has led to armed police, closure of streets, traffic chaos and major security measures. Here, too, one had arrived at one ideal plot, incidentally a popular park area in a residential area a few kilometers outside the city center. The Americans also argued in The Hague that Clingendael was the only option for them, and the mayor of the city said that it would be impossible to move the embassy out of the city center if it was not allowed to build in Clingendael. The city council majority still voted in June this year against locating Clingendael. It is said that the Americans have already been offered two new plots that they should be positive about, and are waiting for a team from Washington to come over and approve the plots. In the meantime, they want to strengthen security at the current building in the city center, including with three-meter-high fences. They are not allowed to do so until they agree to move. But not to Clingendael.

The politicians in The Hague showed that it is not a matter of course that Americans should get the ultimate plot seen with their eyes. As a host nation, one must also be able to make demands and expect compromises, also from the Americans. After all, they are guests, as they say in The Hague.

Jan Borgen claims in his post that the embassy will remain in Drammensveien for the "foreseeable future" if it is not moved to Huseby. If there is now no majority in the city council to move the embassy to Huseby, the work of finding an alternative location will have to continue. SV will work to make this a priority.

Vedis Vik, city council member for SV

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