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Thursday, July 18, 2024

Ministers boost Nordic cooperation

Norwegian Defense Minister Espen Barth Eide, who co-hosted a landmark meeting in Bodø earlier this week of the Nordic countries’ defense and foreign ministers, claims Nordic cooperation is more extensive than any could have dreamed just 10 years ago. He wants to expand it further.

Never before have the Nordic countries cooperated so extensively, claims Defense Minister Espen Barth Eide, especially in Arctic areas. PHOTO: Forsvaret

“There’s both a defense policy- and material cooperation among the Nordic countries that we’ve never seen earlier, and that no one would have thought was possible 10 to 15 years ago,” Eide told news bureau NTB after the two-day meeting ended. He doesn’t think there are any limits to how much the current cooperation can be developed among the countries that are both members and non-members of the EU and NATO. Sweden, for example, is a member of the EU but not a member of NATO, while Norway remains outside the EU but is a long-time member of NATO.

“We’ve become quite important suppliers to each other’s defense,” Eide claimed. “We cooperate on major investment projects and train together more than ever before. We also share surveillance resources, so each of us knows more than we knew on our own.”

Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre, the other co-host of the meeting, claimed the Nordic cooperation also has political implications. “It’s useful for us foreign ministers to understand the material meaning of a defense cooperation. There are few countries that are so integrated in exercises and training than the air force cooperation between Norway, Sweden and Finland.

No new measures were approved at the meeting in Bodø, but Støre thinks it laid the groundwork for more cooperation in the future, especially in the Arctic areas.

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