Strong Russian response to NATO meeting on Svalbard

LONGYEARBYENLONGYEARBYEN .Svalbard. Photo Heiko Junge / NTB scanpix

Russian authorities call the forthcoming NATO meeting in Longyearbyen a provocation and believe the meeting is in violation of the Svalbard Treaty.

In May, NATO’s Parliamentary Assembly (NATO PA) will meet in Longyearbyen on Svalbard.

The Parliamentary Assembly is an international organization for parliamentarians from NATO member states, and serves as an important link for NATO and the elected representatives.

That the meeting is being held on Svalbard and that the security policy situation is one of the issues, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs finds hard to swallow. In a statement, Moscow uses unusually strong words, according to the Independent Barents Observer.

The statement states, among other things, that the NATO meeting is a provocation and completely unnecessary.

– We firmly believe that there are no problems in the Arctic region that require NATO presence to be resolved, not even military.

– Keeping this meeting on Spitsbergen goes against the spirit of the Svalbard treaty from 1920. We look at this as a provocative act, according to the statement, among other things; it escalates the tension between Russia and the northern European countries.

The Svalbard Treaty regulates all military activity on the archipelago. In the Norwegian version of the treaty, it is stated that “not exploit the area for the purpose of war”. Russia believes that a NATO meeting – even if it takes place without military personnel – is in conflict with this.

The NATO Parliamentary Assembly also visited Svalbard in 2004, but then the political situation was completely different.


Source: NTB scanpix / Norway Today