New Norway PM defends right-wing partner
Norway's incoming Prime Minister has rushed to the defence of the Progress Party, her prospective coalition partner, claiming that it "is not a xenophobic party".
"I think the international criticism is unfair to the Progress Party," Erna Solberg told Norwegian talk show host Fredrik Skavlan in an interview for his Friday night talk show.
"Progress is a right-wing party, and not a xenophobic party. Parts of the immigration policy they are pushing for have already been implemented elsewhere in the Nordic region."
The Progress Party this week objected strongly to articles in the international press linking them to far-right terrorist Anders Breivik, a former member, and describing them as far-right, xenophobic populists.
However, Norway's foreign ministry told The Local on Thursday that it would not instruct its envoys to defend the party, as Progress Party politicians have demanded.
"We have asked our embassies to forward inquiries about the politics and policies of the Progress Party to the party itself," Frode Overland Andersen, assistant director general of the ministry's communication unit, told The Local. "We have also made the party aware of articles we believe they might want to react to."
Norway's outgoing Minister for International development, Eidsvoll Holmås, caused a furore on Wednesday night when he defended the international media's descriptions of the party.
"It is quite natural that countries perceive @frp_no as Norway's right-wing populist party, like the Danish People's Party and the Sweden Democrats," Holmås remarked on Twitter on Wednesday night.
Progress Party leader Siv Jensen in 2009 warned that Norway was undergoing a process of "sneak-Islamisation" and more recently said that the solution to the Roma people living in Oslo was to “put them on a bus and cart them back to the Balkans.”