OSLO, March 17. /TASS/. It’s important for Norway and Russia to maintain cooperation in a number of key areas, including nuclear and radiation security, safety of navigation in the Barents Sea and interaction of border and coast guards, Norwegian Defense Minister Ine Marie Eriksen Soreide told TASS on Tuesday.
"Our two countries should maintain everyday cooperation on the issues and in the areas where it is necessary to ensure the safety of people living in the polar regions," said the minister who took part in a seminar on security in the Northern European Region. "We are doing this, and I highly appreciate the work done by both sides. We’d also like to see further progress in implementing the programs of cross-border cooperation and people’s diplomacy."
Soreide said that these considerations should not interference with the kingdom’s government to take tough political decisions "in connection with what we consider a crude violation of international law standards on the part of Russia."
The minister also said that her remarks in a recent interview with the CNN US TV channel had been misinterpreted by the media. Soreide said in particular that it was impossible for the West to go back to "some sort of normality" in relations with Russia, because "that normality doesn’t exist". The statement drew strong criticism from a number of prominent Norwegian public figures.
"I didn’t say that relations with Russia would never be the same again," the minister noted. "I said that, as things stood now, it was very difficult to expect them to normalize in the foreseeable future. A major factor here is that Russia has violated the norms of international law. Russia has an opportunity to act otherwise and thus restore part of the lost confidence."