In a series of meetings during her stay in the United States, Norway’s defence minister has highlighted the complex and growing security challenges we face. In today’s changing security policy terrain, the transatlantic partnership represents a key security guarantee. “Secretary Hagel confirmed this in our conversation,” says the defence minister.
Norway will pull its weight
“Today Secretary Hagel and I discussed a number of issues, including transatlantic security policy, current NATO affairs, operations, Norwegian interests in the fighter aircraft acquisition, American politics, the High North and the United States’ ‘rebalancing’ towards Asia and the Pacific. Norway is determined to contribute to burden-sharing both in NATO and in the transatlantic context. To see to this goal, we are taking a number of measures. We are continuing to invest in the Armed Forces. We have purchased new frigates, we have begun the procurement of new multirole fighter aircraft, and we continue to modernise the Army. These capacities serve Norwegian interests, but we have also chosen to make these investments as a contribution to NATO and our collective security,” says the defence minister.
Secretary Hagel for his part was concerned with missile defence and NATO's contribution to this system. “It is clear that this is one of the most important and highest-priority projects from the American side. Missile defence will obviously be a central feature of transatlantic cooperation going forward, and will have major resource implications. There may be many ways to contribute, and the Government continues the effort begun by the previous government to identify alternatives,” says Eriksen Søreide.
The two defence leaders also touched upon several other matters on which the United States and Norway cooperate well, including pre-positioned US equipment storage in Norway and exercises and training in both countries. Norway supports NATO's focus on exercising and training more together (the Connected Forces Initiative from the NATO summit in 2012). The NATO countries are doing so in order to maintain cooperative operational capabilities when the operation in Afghanistan enters a new phase after 2014. “I was clear with Secretary Hagel that Norway’s involvement in and contribution to NATO will be strengthened, and that NATO’s activities and presence in Norway will be facilitated.”
Norway and the United States have good cooperation on intelligence. This cooperation is important for Norwegian and international security. It is clear that Snowden’s leaks have created serious concern in Europe. There is nothing to suggest that illegal surveillance of Norwegian citizens has taken place. “I have raised this in several of my conversations in Washington, and I also discussed it with Secretary of Defense Hagel today. The fact that Norway speaks up clearly is appreciated,” says Eriksen Søreide. “Norway and the United States will of course continue to work together, and it is important that we have a clear and direct dialogue on these issues with the US authorities. The surveillance issue illustrates the new challenges that rapid international and technological developments create, even between NATO allies,” says the defence minister.
Praise for Norwegian contribution to Syria
Syria was also a topic, and Secretary Hagel praised the Danish-Norwegian contribution to the removal of chemical weapons from Syria, a project now under way. Søreide in turn praised the United States for the leading role it has taken to remove these weapons. “Secretary Hagel stressed that he sees Norway as a constructive, solutions-oriented and creative ally with the willingness and ability to propose concrete measures and follow them up,” says Minister of Defence Ine Eriksen Søreide.