Labour Party politician Atle Ottesen says he was “young and idealistic” when he refused to perform military duty after being drafted in the late 1990s. He was allowed to perform civilian services instead and now he’s been named a top political adviser to Norwegian Defense Minister Anne-Grethe Strøm-Erichsen, also from Labour.
Ottesen, who ended up mounting a political career in the Labour Party in Fredrikstad, told newspaper Aftenposten that now he’s more “realistic” than “idealistic,” but that he’s always liked working with people. “Now I’ll be working with people’s safety and security,” he said.
He said he refused to perform the military service required of most young Norwegian men because he opposed weapons of mass destruction. He also preferred to work with handicapped children and thus spent 14 months doing so in civilian service instead of military service.
The organization representing nearly 10,000 officers in the Norwegian military seemed inclined to give Ottesen a chance as new political adviser to Strøm-Erichsen, who re-assumed her role as defense minister last week. “This has to do with integrity and credibility,” Eivind Solberg, leader of Befalets Fellesorganisasjon, told Aftenposten. “But we will of course give him a chance to show what he stands for.”