Solberg after Putin meeting: Want more cooperation

Norway's Prime Minister Erna Solberg, left, gestures while speaking to Russian President Vladimir Putin, at the International Arctic Forum in St. Petersburg, Russia, Tuesday, April 9, 2019. (Mikhail Klimentyev, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Russia and Norway should cooperate more closely, even though known conflicts are unresolved, says Prime Minister Erna Solberg (H) after the meeting with Vladimir Putin.

We had a good meeting which is a good starting point for further cooperation. There was a desire to get a political meeting at top level to see which areas we can cooperate more in , says Solberg to NTB after the meeting with the Russian president in St. Petersburg on Tuesday.

She points out that the conflict surrounding the crisis in Ukraine, where Norway and Russia are on a collision course, still exist, but we still want to expand the relationship with the Great Power in the east.

The question is whether there are important areas where we can collaborate more . I think that is important to us, both in the business sector, the maritime and the High North, says Solberg.

Continue the conversation
She also found that Putin, who invited the Norwegian Prime Minister to St. Petersburg, wants increased contact.

I experienced that there was a positive outcome. He did well to commission the Foreign Ministers to continue this conversation, says Solberg.

Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Søreide (H) and her colleague Sergej Lavrov will already meet in May during the Arctic Council meeting in Finland, before meeting again during the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Finnmark in the autumn.

Ath the beginning of the meeting, both Putin and Solberg were discussing the anniversary and cooperation in the High North .

I will focus on the positive aspects of the cooperation between our two countries. The agreement on the dividing line in the Barents Sea has been very positive for us and for the cooperation in the North, Putin said.

Challenging Cases
Despite talks at the highest level and hopes for increased cooperation, the issues are lined up : Russia’s annexation of the Crimean Peninsula, Russian GPS disturbances in the North, the spy case of Frode Berg (Putin does not exclude a pardon for Frode Berg) and increased military presence from the United States in Norway are some key words.

Solberg emphasizes that Norway and Russia have many common interests in environmental issues, the sea, the Arctic and people-to-people relationships in the North, although the relationship between the two neighbouring countries has been very cool ever since 2014.

And even though the cooperation is being continued, no new political initiatives have been taken – until Solberg last year brought up Norway’s campaign for cleaner seas in a meeting with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.

“Alongside Artic Allies”
Thus, the fight against marine pollution became a non-controversial matter that could bring the two countries’ top executive together. During a high-level panel on the Arctic, Putin emphasized that he believes there has been a positive change between Russia and the Nordic countries.

“We have never broken our relations in the Arctic,” he said.

At the same time, the Norwegian Prime Minister stated that Norwegian sanctions policy towards Russia is solid.

“We stand together with our allies, where we now have a common policy towards Russia tand we are doing something about international law violations in Ukraine,” says Solberg.

She also mentions concern for the citizens of civil society in Russia, the INF agreement and Norway’s desire to see more disarmament, not the opposite.

GPS interference
Solberg warned in advance that Russia on a number of occasions in recent years has disturbed GPS signals in Finnmark. Norwegian intelligence has pointed out that ‘ jamming’ is not only a new challenge for Norwegian and Allied exercise activities, but also a threat to civil aviation in peacetime.

It is challenging. It affects the stability of the air space signals. That is why we have taken this up with the Russians and submitted documentation to them, says Solberg to NTB.

She points out that Norway does not use megaphone politics, but tries to resolve the matter at a diplomatic level by presenting technical data for the Russians. The purpose is to show that when the GPS signals are disturbed, Russians in distress in the North can also be affected.

We believe it is important that no one disturbs these GPS signals, no matter where it is, she says.

© NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today