Solberg survives anti-terror critics

Bookmark and Share

Prime Minister Erna Solberg avoided a lack of confidence vote in Parliament on Wednesday over her government’s failure to improve preparedness for a terrorist attack. She did have to accept the toughest criticism the Parliament can otherwise dish out.

Prime Minister Erna Solberg said she took the criticism from Members of Parliament seriously. PHOTO: Stortinget

State broadcaster NRK reported that Solberg, who just returned from a trip to South Africa and Angola, had set aside the entire day on Wednesday to be in Parliament when the debate over so-called objektsikring (securing various buildings or locations) came up. She’s been strongly criticized before over what opposition politicians have called her failure to follow up on demands for better security at locations viewed as potential targets for terrorists.

Solberg seemed to disarm her critics by issuing an acknowledgment of her government’s lack of anti-terror preparedness. “I would very much like to underscore from the podium in the Parliament that I accept criticism for this,” Solberg said.

She had earlier noted that her government agreed with criticism from the state auditor general’s office that it will still take “a long time” before all “objects” are secured. She stressed, however, that the apparent lack of outward security “doesn’t necessarily mean” structures aren’t secured at all.

“We take this seriously,” Solberg claimed. She said the process would be more costly and demanding than initially thought. An original deadline for securing terrorist targets set for 2015 proved to be “unrealistic,” in Solberg’s view. She admitted that her government should have communicated that earlier, and more clearly. She stopped short, however, of issuing an apology, which MP Audum Lysbakken of the Socialist Left party (SV) called an illustration of “the arrogance of power.”

Solberg had to listen to more criticism that her government had incorrectly informed or even misled Parliament “and the people” about the security process. Justice Minister Tor Mikkel Wara of the Progress Party insisted, however, that “we have a plan,” with a goal of completing security measures by the end of 2020. There was no majority for a lack of confidence vote, but the debate ended with formal “blame-worthy” criticism of the government. Berglund