It should not have been agreed in advance, but during the talks, the Russians suddenly announced that they want to resume human rights dialogue with Norway.
– I think it’s very good. Our focus must be both on addressing individual issues, but also on increasing the space for civil society in Russia, says Prime Minister Erna Solberg (H) to NTB.
In Russia, a law stamping non-governmental organizations receiving foreign aid as foreign agents, has created major problems for many activist groups.
The law has been challenging in Norwegian-Russian for people-to-people cooperation and will be included in the talks, the prime minister warns.
– Very often, the Norwegian side has taken some of the bill, and it becomes very difficult if you become an agent for the West or Norway if you receive support in such a project on the other side, says Solberg.
In the freezer
The human rights dialogue has been frozen for many years, not least because of the two countries’ completely different views on the conflict in Ukraine.
As the NTB understands, it was Russia who during the meeting between Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his Norwegian colleague Ine Eriksen Søreide (H) on Friday surprised the Norwegian side with the desire to resume the dialogue.
– Our discussion of human rights and civil society brought with it the result during the meeting that we agreed to resume the bilateral human rights dialogue. It is important for our countries, I am happy to say it here and now, says Søreide.
The dialogue will be conducted at the official level and will probably start in the first part of 2020. It also means that the Norwegian-Russian agenda will be expanded, which has been a desire from the Norwegian side as well. Another sign of deeper cooperation is that Lavrov invited Søreide to Russia next year.
© NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today