Erna Solberg travels to Russia in April

Prime Minister, Erna Solberg.Photo: Johan Falnes / NTB scanpix

Prime Minister, Erna Solberg of Høyre travels to Russia in April to attend a conference on the Arctic where President Vladimir Putin is also involved
wrote Aftenposten newspaper.

Russia has invited Prime Minister Erna Solberg and Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Søreide to the Arctic Forum conference in St. Petersburg in April.

It will be the first time since the war in Ukraine broke out and Russia annexed Crimea in 2014 that a Norwegian prime minister will visit the country.The visit also takes place at the same time as the relationship between Russia and the West is at a historically poor level.

‘’We will both participate.The conference is about the core areas that we think are important dialogue areas with Russia,namely the High North and the Arctic.Russia is an important player and partner for us in these areas’’ said Solberg to Aftenposten.

Sea initiative

International Arctic Forum has been organized in Arkhangelsk since 2010,and Russian President,Vladimir Putin,has participated every time.

In October last year,Solberg met his Russian colleague,Dmitry Medvedev,for a very brief meeting during the Europe-Asia Summit in Brussels. It was the first time since the Crimean crisis that the prime ministers from Norway and Russia had met. During the conversation, she invited Russia to participate in a sea venture.

Solberg believes the invitation she has received now is perhaps the result of that particular initiative.

‘’This does not change the fact that we have difficulties in our relationship with Russia.In terms of their violation of international law,and that we have a sanctions regime. But it is a national priority in Norway to have a good relationship with Russia in the north and on these issues’’ she told the newspaper.

Supports the journey

Arbeiderpartiet leader, Jonas Gahr Støre, believes it is good that Solberg will visit Russia and meet President Putin.He believes the prime minister should convey clear Norwegian messages to the president.

‘’One major international theme is about disarmament in Europe and keeping Russia responsible for avoiding a new arms race.

The situation in Crimea is another, and there are still unresolved issues such as the Middle East and the conditions in Syria’’ said Støre.

“We are neighbours and both have common interests and shared responsibility in issues such as fishing and climate and, not least,the environment in the Arctic” he added.

© NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today