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Norway hopes to preserve good relations with Russia despite Ukraine crisis

March 05, 2014, 23:59 UTC+3 OSLO
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OSLO, March 05, /ITAR-TASS/. The government of Norway hopes to preserve good relations with Russia despite the current crisis in Ukraine, Prime Minister Erna Solberg said in an interview with the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation on Wednesday, March 5.

She said Norway would not take any unilateral action with regard to Russia. “Our experience of bilateral relations shows that both Norway and Russia always seek to strengthen cooperation in high altitudes,” she said.

Solberg noted that despite “excellent relations” between the two countries, Norway would follow the European and NATO policy. “We must take into account the fact that Russia broke a number of rules of international law. The government of Norway may have to make a tough choice in the near future,” she said.

“Over the past years Europe has created effective mechanisms for ensuring security, and tensions in relations with Russia subsided after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Nevertheless, the international community cannot but respond to the current situation,” Solberg said.

Solberg met with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev in Sochi a month ago to discuss key issues of relations between the two countries, including trade, economic, investment, energy and cultural cooperation and its future potential.

Medvedev and Solberg also touched on the joint work in the field of fishing and environmental protection as well as the development of ties between Russian and Norwegian regions.

Soberg’s trip followed Norwegian Foreign Minister Borge Brende’s working visit to Russia in late January. During his talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov they discussed how to enhance political dialogue and boost trade and economic cooperation between their countries, including in the North.

The agenda of the talks also covered such topics as cooperation in key areas, including energy, fishing, environmental protection, nuclear and radiation safety, the strengthening of ties between border-lying regions, Russia’s business and scientific activities in Spitsbergen, and humanitarian issues.

The ministers also exchanged views on international issues and discuss cooperation in such regional formats as the Arctic Council, the Council of the Baltic Sea States, the Barents Euro-Arctic Council, and the Northern Dimension.

Lavrov and Brende signed a plan of cooperation between their ministries for 2014-2015.

Interaction in the North occupies a traditionally important place in relations between the two countries. In December 2006, the Norwegian government adopted a strategy in respect of the northern regions, which calls for developing full-scale cooperation with Russia on a wide array of issues ranging from energy, transport infrastructure and fishing to environmental protection, education, culture, and contacts between people.

Agreements between the governments of Russia and Norway on the simplification of visa procedures entered into force in December 2008.

The agreement on trade and economic cooperation of March 26, 1996 regulates bilateral trade and economic relations, and governs the work of the Russian-Norwegian inter-governmental commission on economic, industrial, scientific and technical cooperation.

The agreement signed by the foreign ministers of the two countries in Murmansk on September 15, 2010 and ratified by the national parliaments ended the 40-year-long negotiations between the neighbouring states.

The document opens up opportunities for unhindered development of offshore oil and gas fields in the Arctic in an area of 175,000 square kilometres and lays down the terms of cooperation in the field of fishing.

Norway accounts for 0.4 percent of Russia’s foreign trade turnover. Russian export is dominated by resources (88 percent), including fuel and energy (57.1 percent), metals and products from them (22.4 percent), chemical industry products (4.7 percent), machinery, equipment and means of transport (4.2 percent), timber and pulp-and-paper products (1.4 percent).

Norway supplies mainly fish, fish products, agricultural produce (70.9 percent), machinery, equipment and means of transport (19.2 percent), metals and products from them (4.2 percent), and chemical industry products (3.5 percent).

About 120 enterprises with Norwegian capital are registered in Russia. Norwegian investments in Russia have reached about 1.9 billion U.S. dollars, mainly in the Murmansk, Arkhangelsk, and Leningrad regions. Priority is given to industry, wholesale trade, services, telecommunications, and mass media.

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