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Guarding the Northern Territories


Head of SV's International committee in Troms, Arne-Johan Johansen, puts in a column in Ny Tid # 42 focus on the High North. His input differs in some key areas from Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre's presentation of the Barents 2020 action plan in Tromsø on 10 November.

Johansen's main point, that Norway should set its own requirements in the back seat rather than environmental safety and protection, we find little in the action plan. That SV here is the loser in the Government was clear already before Soria Moria. Barents 2020 signals: yes please, both. High activity of any kind will safeguard Norway's interests, and give us the opportunity to set the premise for the environmental regime as well.

Johansen leaves a few questions unanswered:

- That Norway and Russia must find an agreement is obvious, but in which areas? The dividing line question is just a piece of the puzzle in this puzzle. Agreement on the fisheries protection zone around Svalbard and then the forthcoming shelf requirements may prove to be far more difficult for Norway to reach agreement on.

- Who will support Norway's policy in the area, whether this is about energy recovery or protection? Once upon a time we had American nuclear weapons in the back; now we can experience that the USA, Russia and the EU come together and set the agenda for the region. Then it is not enough to come to terms with the UN. Supports Johansen UD's desire for a session gunboat diplomacy. And an EU membership is hardly relevant?

- Does Johansen believe in a unique regime for the «Norwegian» areas, where our neighboring countries in the north are fully committed to sovereignty and energy? Denmark is currently mapping possible shelf requirements north of Greenland; the hope is that they can secure all resources on and under the seabed all the way to the North Pole! Russia is awaiting the Norwegian demands before they will publish their demands, but from experience we can hardly expect modesty.

- A wise decision Gahr Støre called it Tromsø, when Hydro and Statoil joined the five companies in the last round before the Russians choose their partners for the development of the Stokman field. His ambition is clear: Norwegian companies on both sides of the border line, where it is now drawn. To what extent does Johansen expect that restraint in energy recovery will reverberate in the north, where unemployment prevails?

It is not inconceivable that Soria Moria wins a greater audience in the north than the SV party program.

Morten Rønning is a journalist.

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