Jens Stoltenberg was the Norwegian Prime Minister for 8 years before he became Secretary General of NATO. As a leader of the Norwegian government he was known for being invisible. He tried to solve everything behind closed doors, and as a result the other two parties in this three party coalition made very public statements that appeared to go against the offial government policy. Everyone waited for Stoltenberg to deal with this, but nothing happened. He gave the usual response politicians do when they use an excessive amount of words to say absolutely nothing.
I have a feeling it’s something similar with regards to Russia. When I was growing up I kept hearing news about the talks between Norway and Russia, which dealt with the maritime border and fish quotas in the Barents Sea. Nothing seemed to happen before Jens Stoltenberg and President Medveded signed an agreement after 40 years of talks. Trying to deal with a powerful and ambitious country like Russia is difficult, and it is pretty clear that you can never count on anything. That makes it hard to understand why our politicians are being so naive.
As Secretary General of NATO Jens Stoltenberg has adviced the member-countries of this alliance not to lower their guard when it comes to Russia. Really? Let’s look at what Stoltenberg did himself. In 2013 the Norwegian government, led by Jens Stoltenberg, sold the navy base Olavsvern in Tromsø. Norway was the only country that had a base relatively close to this part of Russia and the Barents Sea. His government also used its majority in Parliament to close down the airforce base in Bodø. So now we don’t have much military presence where we need it the most.
But let me return to the navy base Olavsvern. This has been privately owned since early 2013 and we don’t know much about whoever owns it. There have been Russian research vessels at this base all winter. The new government isn’t much better. They claim that there’s nothing they can do now that the base is privately owned, so they don’t even monitor the ships that dock there. We know from the Cold War that you can’t necessarily accept the official story. There were many private research vessels and fishing boat that were very much under military command then. So maybe we should be just a little bit concerned when these ships show an interest in access to a former NATO base?
Incindentally, in recent years many European countries have been forced to “guide” Russian military planes and ships out of their own terrirories. I think NATO is being tested, and I’m not sure Norway has passed. Many Norwegians, including myself, have assumed that this is the safest place to be. We might be doing the same mistake as in 1940. We tried to be neutral like Sweden. Our neighbour decided to make a deal with Hitler, while Norway payed a high price for being naive. We still believe that if something happens, it certainly won’t start here. I hope our politicians realize that the world is not a different planet. We are actually a part of it, and we do have a border to Russia.
I am reading a book about some of the Norwegian heroes from World war 2 at the moment. I am going to write about it in my next update from my book challenge. Heroes have a tendency to step forward when they are needed. Maybe we need them again now?