New agreement with the USA challenges Norwegian base policy

The base statement: After Norway and the USA entered into an agreement in April on practical matters for US military activity in Norway, the debate on Norwegian base policy has flared up in earnest. The peace policy dividing lines in the case are clear.

Harang is the editor of "Fredsnasjonen", the magazine MODERN TIMES published in the summer of 2021.

The Supplementary Defense Cooperation Agreement (USA) (Supplementary Defense Cooperation Agreement) concerns practical aspects of US military activity in Norway. The agreement was signed on April 16 by Minister of Defense Frank Bakke-Jensen, but will be up in the Storting this autumn. Then two propositions are presented in the case: a consent bill and a bill. The bill and the agreement are now sent out for public consultation with a three-month consultation deadline. Thus, this case will also be relevant for a long time to come.

The debate is primarily about changing Norwegian base policy with the new agreement. Foreign Minister Ine Marie Eriksen Søreide says that «the agreement does not involve any changes in important Norwegian security policy principles. The base, nuclear and port policy is fixed ».[1] Not everyone agrees. Aftenposten believes the agreement gives the Americans a historic foothold in Norway.[2] Dagsavisen goes further and believes the agreement is an obvious breach of Norwegian base policy.[3] This is because the agreement is contrary to the base declaration formulated by the Gerhardsen government in advance of Norway's accession to NATO in 1949 (see right).

The agreement contradicts the base declaration The Gerhardsen government formulated in advance of Norway's accession to NATO in 1949.

Through the new agreement with the USA, so-called "united areas" will be created at the airports at Rygge, Sola, Evenes and at Ramsund naval base. This means that American branches may operate in Norway as if they were in the United States. With own soldiers, weapons, civilian experts in IT, materials for encryption, engine mechanics, construction work and welfare. Also with its own guard inside the Norwegian bases. According to the agreement, the Americans must have "unhindered access to and use of" these areas. All of these "united areas", with the exception of Sola and Ramsund, have in recent years also been known for popular opposition to the US military presence locally.

In return, the United States must respect that they are on Norwegian territory. They may not store nuclear weapons, landmines or cluster munitions under the agreement. They must follow Norwegian law. And the framework for the activity in this country must be approved by Norway. The United States has wanted the new agreement – which will last for at least ten years. The core of the agreement is that the USA will spend significant sums on building reception and training facilities inside the Norwegian bases.

The Base Declaration of 1949: The Norwegian Government «therefore wishes to repeat in the most categorical way that it will neither contribute to a policy that has aggressive purposes nor open bases for foreign forces' forces on Norwegian territory as long as Norway is not attacked or exposed to threats of attack ».

[1]   Government press release April 16, 2021.

[2]   Aftenposten, 3 May 2021: «American soldiers will be allowed to stay in Norway as if they were in the USA. Naturally, says Minister of Defense Frank Bakke-Jensen. "

[3]   Dagsavisen's editor 4 May 2021.


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