Norwegian and Russian negotiators have shaken hands on new fishing quotas in the Barents Sea, agreeing on how much cod, halibut and other fish each can catch. Russian President Vladimir Putin also turned complimentary last week, when meeting Norway’s new ambassador in Moscow.
“We want to develop a productive cooperation with our neighbour Norway,” Putin told Norway’s Ambassador Rune Resaland. Newspaper Aftenposten reported on the meeting over the weekend.
Putin reportedly went on to say that Russian and Norwegian businesses “have interests in new common projects within energy, fishing, shipbuilding and several other areas.” Aftenposten characterized the meeting as a “surprising flirt” in which Putin also noted that next year marks the 75th anniversary of the former Soviet Union’s liberation of Northern Norway from Nazi Germany occupiers in 1944.
Calls have gone out in Norway to invite Putin to celebrations planned in Finnmark, which has maintained good relations with Soviet and Russian officials all along. Jonas Gahr Støre, leader of the Norwegian Labour Party and the opposition in Parliament, supports such an invitation, as do local politicians in Finnmark. “I don’t sit in the government and it’s not natural for the Parliament to take any initiative,” Støre told Aftenposten on Monday, “but the government should invite President Putin.” While Defense Minister Frank Bakke-Jensen has had some reservations, Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Søreide has said the government is considering an invitation.
The friendly overtures are refreshing after months of mutual complaints over spying, military exercises and ongoing tension over Russia’s annexation of Crimea and intervention in Ukraine. Norway released an alleged Russian spy from custody on Friday, while Russia still holds an alleged Norwegian spy in Moscow.