Norway has entered into an agreement with the West African country of Niger, which opens up for sending a Norwegian force there.
‘Vårt Land’ wrote on Tuesday that “Norway will send military units to Niger to hunt terrorists.” This is rejected by the Ministry of Defense.
“Norway has entered into a legal agreement with Niger, which allows Norwegian personnel to be sent to the country, but no political decision has been made in detail” says senior adviser Marita Isaksen Wangberg in the Ministry of Defense of NTB.
– Why does Norway intend to enter into such agreements with a country if it does not consider sending any military personnel?
“We have agreements with very many countries,” said Wangberg.
On questions from ‘Vårt Land’ about why the agreement with Niger has been written, Wangberg shows to Norway’s contribution in the fight against international terrorism.
– Norway is widely involved in international efforts to combat terrorism. As an player in this struggle, Norway actively contributes in a number of areas, ranging from information sharing to capacity building and mentoring of operational units, she writes in an email to the newspaper.
– Personnel from the Armed Forces contribute periodically to capacity building in the Sahel and Guinea Bay. This agreement will facilitate Norwegian personnel in residing in Niger, she continues.
Better in position
In relation to NTB, Wangberg emphasizes that any Norwegian force contribution will “train and advise local forces so that they are better able to handle security challenges in their own country.”
However, she acknowledges that today there are militant Islamists who constitute the biggest security challenge, both in Niger and neighboring countries.
“That’s correct, but the point is that we will drive capacity building and not even participate in the pursuit of terrorists,” she said.
Italy recently signed an agreement to send 470 soldiers to Niger. According to the Italian authorities, they will especially help to strengthen border control in the country.
Italy has also used large resources in Libya in an attempt to stop the flow of boat refugees across the Mediterranean, and the Nigeran operation is seen as an attempt to slow down the flow of migrants and refugees from West Africa to Libya.
Wangberg will not answer if the Norwegian units in Niger may collaborate with the Italian force, but she denies to NTB that they may be commissioned to “stop migrants.”
“These are claims there are no evidence for,” she says.
© NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today