Norway nurtures closer military ties to Sweden

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Norwegian Defense Minister Espen Barth Eide has called Sweden “our foremost partner within military material,” especially rolling stock, and is backing up the claim with around NOK 10 billion worth of defense purchases.

Just four years ago, Sweden was angry and disappointed when Norway opted to buy US-built fighter jets instead of the Swedish SAAB Gripen. Now, reports newspaper Aftenposten, relations have been eased following orders for, among other things, new armoured tanks and artillery.

Eide, after meetings with Sweden’s Defense Minister Karin Enström, called the orders part of an important renewal for Norway’s Telemark battalion, while Enström said Sweden’s defense industry depends on exports. “Our production can strengthen our cooperation further,” she said.

Eide denied the orders, the largest Norway’s army has made for many years, were meant to heal wounds after Norway rejected Sweden’s fighter jets. “We’re buying the material because it’s good and best suits our needs,” he said. Eide added, though, that it “added an extra dimension” that the material is Swedish, because that helps build up a Nordic industrial base.

Norway is a member of NATO but not a member of the EU, while Sweden is in the EU but not NATO. That makes the relations more special, but Eide stressed that “Norway and Sweden have lots of confidence in one another.”

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