A compromise hammered out and backed by a majority in parliament calls for Norway to accept another 8,000 refugees from Syria over the next two-and-a-half years. Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported that in addition to the 1,500 already expected this year, party leaders have agreed to take 500 more this year, 3,000 next year and 3,000 in 2017, all of them to be sent to Norway by the United Nations.
NRK reported that the Conservative Party, which leads Norway’s minority government coalition, and most of the other parties represented in parliament also agreed to boost Norwegian financial aid to refugees where they are by another NOK 250 million this year. That money will be allocated through a “change of priorities” in this year’s state budget.
They also agreed that Norway will donate another NOK 1.5 billion in refugee aid (USD 192 million) next year. In order to cover the costs of settling refugees in Norway, the parties agreed to allocate another NOK 50 million to the local communities that must accommodate them and provide another NOK 30 million in financing for housing.
Only the parties at the opposite ends of Norway’s political spectrum, the Progress Party on the right and the Socialist Left party (SV) on the left, bowed out of the settlement. The Progress Party walked away from the bargaining table on Friday and its deputy leader threatened the party may withdraw from the government coalition if required to accommodate too many more refugees. SV leader Audun Lysbakken walked out of the negotiations Wednesday morning, because his party wanted Norway to accept at least another 10,000 refugees from Syria this year and next year alone.
All the others compromised in a settlement that Labour Party leader Jonas Gahr Støre called “historic” and which all the parliamentarian leaders took back to their delegations for presentation Wednesday afternoon. They intended to make further details of their settlement public later in the day.
Prime Minister Erna Solberg had already voiced support for a settlement and now appears intent on keeping her government coalition together. Her government partner, Progress Party leader Siv Jensen, seemed inclined to go along despite her deputy’s threats earlier in the day, saying there was no debate within the party to leave the government.
At least one of the government’s support parties, which, like SV, had called for accepting 10,000 refugees, was satisfied with the settlement. Knut Arild Hareide of the Christian Democrats said he was eager to present it to his fellow Members of Parliament.
“I think the fact that the Conservatives and the government have gone along with this has great significance,” Hareide told NRK. “Think about the refugee who comes to Norway and would hear that the government did not support the settlement. This is a very good and offensive agreement that I look forward to present to my parliamentary group.”