Norwegian politicians have been denied visas, and the Norwegian Police Security Service (PST) have accused Russian security forces of hacking.
The cases reveal that relations with Russia are troublesome, recognises Erna Solberg.
The Prime Minister stressed that both the hacking attacks, and denial of visas to Norwegian parliamentarians, have been known to the Norwegian authorities for a long time, but added, ‘the issues are now visible to public opinion, they now know what the Norwegian authorities have known for quite some time, namely that we are in a difficult situation with Russia. However, we still have a very good bilateral relationship in the areas where we need cooperation’, she said.
This week it became known that the Sosialistisk Venstreparti’s (SV) Bård Vegar Solhjell, and the Venstreparti (V) leader, Trine Skei Grande, were both denied visas to Russia. It prompted the ‘Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence’ to cancel a planned visit to Moscow.
‘We think this is unfair’, said Erna Solberg to NTB news agency about the visa refusals.
‘It is true that we have some parliamentarians on our sanction lists. But these are parliamentarians who have aided and encouraged in people’s rights violations. It is their actions that have kept them on the list’, explained the prime minister.
The Russian Embassy in Oslo confirmed that there is a list of Norwegians who can’t visit Russia. They said the Russian list is a response to Norway, together with the EU, imposing sanctions, that included travel restrictions, against unnamed Russians in 2014.
The rationale for the western sanctions against Russia is the country’s annexation of the Ukrainian Crimean peninsula, and Russian involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine.
Solberg believes that the via restrictions seem to be a retaliation. She says it is ‘sad’ that the two countries have ended up in such a situation.
‘The priority of making our sanctions was that we get movement and implementation of the Minsk agreement’, she said, referring to the roadmap for a ceasefire, and peace in eastern Ukraine.
Source: NTB scanpix / Norway Today