Bollestad in tears defends Norwegian stance on IS children
Olaug Bollestad touches on a wide range of issues in her first – and most likely last – speech as a party leader before the National Assembly of the Christian Democrats (Krf). She can’t hold back her tears over the Norwegian children stranded in Syria.
Both children of fighters of the Islamic State (IS), parental leave and district politics are topics Bollestad addresses in her speech. Additionally, she devotes both space and time to personal stories regarding her husband’s brain haemorrhage and adolescence faced with a mentally ill mother.
In front of a packed National Assembly at Sola a toll station away from Stavanger, Bollestad embroiders on her deeply personal experiences in order to illustrate the importance of «having a local community that cares».
“That was one of the reasons why I wanted to get involved in politics in 2003,” Bollestad asserts.
Bollestad continues as Deputy Chairman of KrF after the National Assembly.
Bollestad on the Children in Syria
A tricky question for KrF lately is the future of the children of IS fighters in Syria. Many in the audience are curious about what the acting party leader has to say about the, mildly put, controversial issue.
“We know that this is no clear cut solution to this. There are many challenges and many dilemmas,” Bollestad informs in her speech on Friday.
“But they are kids, and they are our kids,” a Bollestad in tears continues to vigorous ovations from the assembly.
There is a big disagreement Within the government about what to do with those children. While the Progress Party does not wish to bring any of them to Norway, Prime Minister Erna Solberg has opened the door to bring back children who are proven to be orphaned Norwegians. Solberg has also left the door ajar with regard to bringing other children back as well – providing parental consent – without their parents.
Upcoming Leader of Krf, Minister of Children and Family Affairs, Kjell Ingolf Ropstad, has supported the Prime Minister thus far.
“Now we must prioritise the most vulnerable first, those who do not have mothers and fathers,” Bollestad emphasises. She maintains that KrF wishes to help children who have parents alive, as well.
During Political Quarter on NRK on Friday morning, she has to admit that there isn’t «a window of opportunity» at present.
Time is running out for the government
At the same time, many in KrF believe that the government does not go far enough and that the work is going too slowly. This is a debatable matter at the National Assembly.
“This is a difficult situation, and I understand that the government is working on the matter. But now people are starting to become impatient, a solution must come soon. We have provided the government with space, but time is running out,” Leader of the youth organisation, Martine Tønnessen (KrfU), tells the Christian newspaper Vårt Land.
Others react to the demand that mothers must accept to be separated from their children if the children are to be eligible for return to Norway.
“A terrible form of extortion,” KrF’s top candidate for Vestland county, Trude Brosvik, tells Aftenposten.
Home Care benefits, parental leave and the districts
Bollestad further announces a piece of «good tidings», admittedly strategically leaked beforehand, namely that the Norwegian government has agreed to reverse all of the disputed changes in the Home Care benefits scheme.
“With KrF in the Parliament we adopted it. With KrF in government it happens! ”Bollestad exclaims.
She also warns that KrF will continue its work in the government to move jobs away from Oslo to the districts.
There is also expected to be a debate at the National Assembly on the division of the parental leave scheme into three periods, which many Christian Democrats are opposed to.
“Mothers and fathers all over the country say no thank you to the state overriding how the family should distribute their allotted leave. They want to decide for themselves. I understand them well,” Bollestad concludes.
If the Christian Democrats lands on a no to the proposed triage, three of the four government parties will be opposed to the scheme.
© NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today