As Norway starts the healing process after last Friday’s terrorist attacks, the government announced it was forming a special commission to examine exactly what happened and gauge emergency response. The commission will be independent and later report its results to Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg.
“It’s import to clarify all aspects of these attacks in order to learn from what has happened,” Stoltenberg said Wednesday afternoon. “We need to know what worked and what didn’t work, also what happened and how it happened.”
Formation of the commission immediately won full non-partisan support from the leaders of all parties represented in Parliament. Stoltenberg continues to enjoy widespread support for how he has handled the crisis of the past few days, and there’s been little if any criticism from opposition politicians or the public.
There has been criticism, however, from foreign media that police were slow to respond to the massacre on the island Utøya. Police in nearby Jevnaker have admitted they had some technical problems with their communications systems when the first calls for help came in. Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported that police in Ringerike apologized that they hadn’t taken a distress call from one father seriously.
Otherwise police seemed puzzled by the criticism in some international publications and questioned its foundation. Justice Minister Knut Storberget has praised the response of emergency crews and police and even opposition leader Erna Solberg of the Conservative Party said the crisis response had proven that Norway’s emergency system works.
Asked whether she thinks the attacks meant Norway lacks sufficient security systems, Solberg said “it means we have an open society.” Neither Stoltenberg nor Solberg nor other politicians want to change Norway’s policies of openness and accessibility.
Stoltenberg also announced that a national memorial ceremony will be held sometime in the next few weeks in Oslo for the families of those killed in the bombing of government headquarters and the massacre on the island. The state will also cover costs in connection with individual memorials and funerals. Travel expenses to and from Oslo will also be covered.
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