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Refusing to join

Jonas Gahr Støre goes against SV's US declaration in the party program. The new foreign minister would rather have a "close, close and good relationship with the United States".


The former Secretary General of the Norwegian Red Cross was the first Minister of State in the fire. He got the fishing conflict on Svalbard and the microphones in the fleece just after being appointed.

- Even though Norway maintains its sovereignty around Svalbard, Russia does not recognize the same borders. Is this a real contentious issue?

- We have different opinions about this, we must not underestimate that. But this has been the case for almost 30 years. The disagreements cannot mean that we do not take responsibility for managing the resources. In fact, there is political agreement that resources must be managed properly. We must set quotas and ensure that the equipment is in line with the rules. This is presented as if Norway claims sovereignty. It is an important tradition that a fisherman in relation to the historical rights, it is they who form the basis for the quotas. And these we have to follow despite some episodes with some boats. There will always be some who are dissatisfied, both on the Norwegian, Russian and Spanish sides. But that's how it is when you handle a scarce commodity. Norway showed that we have experience, are recognizable, know what we are doing and are stuck in the fish when needed.

- The Russian boat was not the only thing you got in the woods the first week in a new job. Will the government be responsible for the change of course in the WTO that, among others, the aid community is calling for and as the government declaration says?

- The Soria Moria declaration speaks for itself. We recognize that there is a need for driving rules internationally. At the same time, there are several issues we need to look into. First, how we should deal with agriculture as a new field in the WTO. And we are already committed to substantial reductions in customs duties and agricultural and export subsidies. I am humble in relation to Norwegian agriculture. We have long emphasized our own food production, not only for the sake of food, but to maintain settlement and a vibrant cultural landscape. Now we have to negotiate significant reductions and find solutions. The Soria Moria Declaration states that we should be the voice of the poorest countries. We have zero tariffs on them, but the poorest countries export almost nothing.

- But there are obvious contradictions between the considerations for poor countries and the considerations for Norwegian trade and agriculture. How will these contradictions be reflected in the government?

- We want to avoid putting weak groups against each other. The government statement is clear that agriculture has been and must go through a tough development. Our internal solidarity means that we will work to find instruments to take care of the main goals for Norwegian agriculture. We recognize and appreciate the value of cultural landscapes, agricultural services and the settlement aspect. The situation is not just black and white, so we have to choose enten Norwegian agriculture or trade. But when a possible outcome of negotiations is available, we must take a thorough review of the entire agricultural policy.

- When it comes to Norwegian forces abroad, the government declaration is full of compromises. The announced escalation of Norwegian NATO forces is a defeat for SV, isn't it?

- The three parties have agreed on a platform where we step up the ISAF forces and – as a result – step down our participation in Enduring Freedom. The government fully supports this policy. My task is to implement this policy, and I will start immediately.

- This policy does not exactly provide for a less close cooperation with the United States, even if the forces in Enduring Freedom, directly under American command, are downsized?

- It depends on the eyes that see. We will step up UN work as well. Today, the UN turns 60, and while we have previously had several thousand soldiers in UN service, today we are down to 50 pieces. We will to a greater extent be open to handing over personnel to the UN.

- In the previous parliamentary term, we saw a growing US skepticism in Europe, especially in connection with the «war on terror». What is it like to embark on this collaboration now?

- The United States is Norway's ally in NATO. We have many ties to the United States, including culture, education, research, trade and the environment. Our goal is to have a close, close and good relationship with the United States, as with all other countries. In addition, the historical ties indicate that it is a bilateral relationship that we are very keen to take care of. But this must not be confused with the fact that a good relationship means that we need to agree on everything. I have my most bitter discussions with my American friends, they have a democratic tradition that invites debate. Such a close relationship can withstand disagreement – although of course we do not need to maximize those feelings just for the sake of the profile. A country like Norway, with our size and location, must work tirelessly for an international legal order, we must use our power and ensure that it is not only the strongest who rule. But demonstration policy does not help anyone. Therefore, I think much of the requirement for Norwegian marking above the United States is easy. It is entirely possible to stand for that line, but take care of the need for respect and for listening.

SV says in its party program that the United States is the biggest threat to world peace. What do you think about that?

- It is not the government's view, and it is a view I personally completely disagree with. A single country can not get such a label. The greatest threat to world peace is when states and groups use military force without international law, when we have a lack of control over climate emissions, corruption and despotism in military states and an inability to come up with a common force in the fight against poverty. To do something about those points, it requires three main focuses: We must focus on the UN, international law and shared responsibility for security and development. It requires close contact with our allies and our partners. And it requires that we use our role positively to promote peace, reconciliation and development.

- The government declaration has received its suicide clause and is characterized by many compromises also in the EU. You will not apply for membership, but are planning an offensive European policy in relation to the EEA and will, among other things, review the significance of the Schengen Agreement for Norway. It seems like you've got quite a bit of leeway?

- Yes, you have read the statement well. There is a trauma on the yes side that says that if you are not for membership in the short term, then you are a reactionary. But you can be both active and inventive to take care of both Norwegian and European interests. I am in favor of Norwegian membership, but will now put it aside to focus on how we can contribute, in terms of education, research, trade and so on. EU membership is an important issue, but this government will not apply for it. Then it must not be a trauma that destroys our opportunities to take care of our own interests in Brussels. It is also my role to convey the challenges we face on our way. I must take care of Norwegian interests, even if it goes against the EU.

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