No more soldiers from Norway
December 3, 2009
Norwegian government officials still say they won’t send more soldiers to Afghanistan, despite new calls for help from US President Barack Obama and NATO. Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg and his fellow ministers maintain that Norway already is making “a substantial contribution” to the fight against the Taliban.
Stoltenberg and his government ministers have repeatedly resisted calls for more soldiers in Afghanistan. They continued to do so this week, even after Obama decided to send 30,000 new troops and wants 5,000 to come from Europe.
Both Stoltenberg and Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre answered “no” when asked whether they’d heed Obama’s and NATO’s new call. Norway will, however, continue to send replacement troops to help train Afghan soldiers and maintain current levels of soldiers from Norway at around 500.
Siv Jensen of the Progress Party, one of the leaders of the opposition in Parliament, thinks Norway should send more soldiers. Most other parties are against additional troops.Meanwhile, a new public opinion poll indicated that nearly 46 percent of Norwegians think Norway should pull its troops out of Afghanistan. Around 39 percent think they should stay, according to the poll conducted by TNS Gallup for TV2.
Heikki Holmås of the Socialist Left claimed the poll results confirmed sentiment elsewhere in Europe that the war in Afghanistan “isn’t going in the right direction.”
Holmås is from a party that shares government power with Stoltenberg, so he therefore was speaking against his own government colleagues, but SV long has opposed Norway’s involvement in Afghanistan and has compromised on the issue to maintain government unity.
The Norwegian diplomat serving as the UN’s special envoy to Afghanistan, Kai Eide, welcome the new troops to be sent by Obama and NATO. Several European countries have agreed to boost their forces in the war-torn country, including Georgia, Poland, Great Britain, Spain and the Netherlands.