Opposition seizes on US criticism

Norway’s two leading opposition parties in Parliament, the Conservatives and the Progress Party, quickly seized on harsh criticism leveled by US diplomats against the Norwegian government and its leaders. The criticism was revealed in documents made available by website WikiLeaks.

Both Erna Solberg, head of the Conservative Party, and Siv Jensen, head of the Progress Party, went on national radio Tuesday, expressing worries about what appeared to be chillier relations between the US and Norway.

Far from defending their fellow Norwegian politicians, even against apparent US desires to “control” changing Norwegian foreign policy, both Solberg and Jensen took the opportunity to point out why the Americans’ criticism should be taken seriously.

Solberg, for example, told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) that the left-center coalition government headed by Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg had “misled” Norwegians on the effects of its decision to meet with representatives of Hamas after Hamas won Palestinian elections. The meeting, conducted by then-state secretary Raymond Johansen of the foreign ministry, deeply upset the Bush Administration.

Jensen of the Progress Party, Norway’s most conservative party in Parliament, also criticized the Norwegian government’s decision to meet with what she called a “terrorist organization.”

Embassy response
The US Embassy, meanwhile, issued a statement on Tuesday saying it did not plan to comment on any specific classified documents from WikiLeaks or any other source. Spokesman Tim Moore claimed that Norwegian-American relations stretch over many decades and many issues, and can’t be reduced to single sentences “taken out of context.” There was no apology for harsh criticism directed against individual ministers within the Norwegian government.

Moore went on to say, however, that “our common history, common values” and operations around the world are a better indicator of the content of the relationship between the two countries. He said the embassy’s diplomats would continue to travel around Norway to communicate with the Norwegian people and would also continue what he claimed was a “constructive dialogue” with Norwegian authorities.

Through that work, he claimed, the embassy expected that “our very good and close relationship” would continue to be strengthened in the future.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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