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820 days have passed since the Salisbury incident - no credible information or response from the British authorities                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     812 days have passed since the death of Nikolay Glushkov on British soil - no credible information or response from the British authorities

SPEECHES, INTERVIEWS, ARTICLES

24.10.2019

Sergey Lavrov’s article for the Aftenposten daily, Norway, Russia-Norway Relations: A Common Past and a Pragmatic Future, 23 October 2019

At the moment, Norway is celebrating the liberation of East-Finnmark from Nazi occupation. We honour the feat of valour committed by the Soviet soldiers, participants in the resistance movement and partisans, who drove the Nazi occupation forces from the Norwegian land 75 years ago. The participation in the celebrations in Kirkenes on October 25 of King Harald V of Norway, Prime Minister Erna Solberg, members of the Storting, and representatives of local governments testifies to the importance that your country attaches to this date. Russia greatly appreciates this.

During World War II, there were over 100,000 Soviet prisoners of war in Norway. About 12,700 of them died, succumbing to inhumane labour conditions, hunger and diseases. Many were executed for attempting to escape. More than 2,000 Red Army soldiers lost their lives during the Petsamo-Kirkenes Operation. I would like to convey our sincere gratitude to our Norwegian friends, who take good care of the many monuments and graves of Soviet soldiers, install new monuments and commemorative plaques, and help to carry out archival and field search work to identify the names of the fallen that are as yet unknown.

A common heroic past has always stood in good stead in the matter of promoting bilateral relations, which are in many respects unique. In fact, Russian-Norwegian ties have experienced ups and downs, but they have never been darkened by armed conflicts. In the Cold War era, Moscow and Oslo tried to find points of contact. It is in this way that responsible neighbours should behave, neighbours who share Europe’s oldest border. It is symbolic in this sense that apart from the liberation of East-Finnmark, we are celebrating the 70th anniversary of the Treaty on the Soviet-Norwegian Border Regime and the Settlement of Border Conflicts and Incidents.

Regrettably, the dynamically developing cooperation has slowed down after the coup d’etat in Ukraine in February 2014. Oslo has joined the anti-Russian sanctions. As a result, entire areas of interaction have been curtailed. I do not believe that this meets the core interests of our nations.

The increasingly active military preparations in areas close to the Russian border are a matter of grave concern. Norway is deviating from its “basic policy” by deploying in its territory training bases for US and UK military personnel, which are allegedly based on the “rotation” principle but are in fact permanent facilities. Norway is also increasing its military budget and upgrading the relevant infrastructure. In October and November 2018, highly aggressive NATO exercise, Trident Juncture, with the participation of personnel from partner countries was held near the Russian border. The building up of military activities in the Arctic and the striving to include the region in the area of NATO responsibility, all this is eroding stability and trust.

At the same time, we manage to maintain dialogue even under the existing circumstances and there are some positive shifts in this regard. In April 2019, President of Russia Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister of Norway Erna Solberg had a meeting within the framework of the Arctic: Territory of Dialogue International Arctic Forum in St Petersburg, which gave an impetus to ties in various areas. Related agencies are resuming contacts. Trade is returning to the pre-crisis level; border and inter-regional exchanges are expanding. I hope that by joint efforts we will manage to steer our relations back to a progressive trajectory. This will benefit both our states and citizens, and the entire Euro-Arctic region.

Gained during World War II, the invaluable experience of alliance and cooperation in the fight against the criminal ideology of misanthropy is particularly needed today, when the world community is facing numerous dangerous challenges and threats that can be effectively opposed only by working together. Russia has insistently called on everyone for a long time to start joint work so as to form an architecture of equal and indivisible security in the Euro-Atlantic region and Eurasia, based on the firm foundation of international law, primarily the UN Charter.        




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