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Norway calls for continued transatlantic dialogue

Foreign Minister Jan Petersen stressed the importance of NATO as a continued transatlantic forum for cooperation and dialogue during his statement to the Norwegian Parliament on Foreign Policy 15 February.

German Chancellor Schröder’s comment on NATO as “no longer being the primary venue where transatlantic partners discuss and coordinate strategies,” raised questions and concerns regarding the potential effects of such a development on Norwegian foreign affairs, as it would exclude NATO as the main transatlantic forum and thereby put an end to Norway’s right to be heard.

However, Norway regards the EU’s current ESDP development as a positive step towards taking on more responsibility in regards to international issues and towards greater burdensharing with the US, and finds the ESDP as complementary to NATO in the new security environment.

“The transatlantic connection must be improved and adjusted to a new time and the new threats and challenges we face,” said Pedersen.

Petersen emphasized the importance of reinforcing the current will, found both in Europe and the US, to strengthen dialogue and cooperation within NATO.

“We can only meet today’s security threats through closer transatlantic cooperation. In such a partnership the US must be willing to listen to European views on issues that affect us all. But responsibility for closer transatlantic cooperation does not lie with the US alone. Europe, too, must be willing to contribute. It is therefore encouraging that key European countries are now emphasising the importance of closer cooperation with the US,” added Petersen.

He pointed to NATO’s role in Afghanistan as an example of transatlantic cooperative achievements, where the NATO-lead international stabilizing force, ISAF, was essential in creating a stable setting in order for the presidential elections to take place.

“One of the main challenges in Afghanistan now is to facilitate, with the help of the international community, the parliamentary elections later this year. The security situation will probably continue to be tense until the elections. NATO must therefore continue to help secure stability and security in the country,” said Petersen. 

Recent EU talks with US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and Norwegian Foreign Minister Petersen established EU’s commitment to improved and strengthened transatlantic relations, an attitude Petersen further expects will be confirmed at the NATO meeting next week.

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Norwegian Foreign Minister Jan PetersenPhoto: Norwegian Mission to the EU

Norwegian forces participating in the ISAF-force in AfghanistanPhoto: NORSOF TG/Forsvaret