Kofi Annan in and out of Norway

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The United Nations’ special envoy Kofi Annan has been working for months to try to end the bloodshed in Syria. This week, however, he flew in and out of Norway on an entirely different sort of mission: Speaking at a conference in Stavanger on fish farming.

UN Special Envoy Kofi Annan, with his top Norwegian aide, Major General Robert Mood, before Annan made his quick trip to Norway this week. PHOTO: United Nations

Newspaper Aftenposten reported that Annan landed in a private chartered jet at Stavanger’s airport at Sola on Tuesday. He was quickly driven into Stavanger where he’d been paid to deliver a speech at a conference sponsored by a Dutch company, Nutreco, which produces fish food among other products, and its Norwegian subsidiary Skretting.

Annan reportedly spoke to more than 400 executives from the fish farming industry about how fish farming “can contribute towards feeding the world” and that the industry had great potential for sustainable growth.

No one at the conference was allowed to ask Annan about the situation in Syria, nor were media allowed to take any photos. Annan was also brought into the conference via a backdoor, avoiding demonstrators from a local support group for Syria.

He reportedly was also escorted back out again through the backdoor after he’d eaten lunch with representatives from the fish farming industry. Aftenposten was told he then took a flight to Frankfurt that left at 2:45pm.

Demonstrators complained, also to Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK), that Annan should have spoken to them. Questions to his Kofi Annan Foundaton in Geneva and to his spokesman in New York, about why he made the trip to the fish farming conference in Norway while Syria descended into civil war, went unanswered.

Veteran diplomat Jan Egeland, a former UN envoy himself, said he had spoken with Annan recently, after he was appointed as the UN’s main peace broker in Syria, and “I know that he’s on the telephone with Russian, American, Arabian and other authorities every single day. He can do that from Stavanger just as easily as from Geneva or New York.”

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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