In a Wednesday parliamentary session that focused heavily on Europe’s refugee crisis, Hareide wanted Brende to share his stance on the prospect of Trump, who has suggested banning all Muslims from entering the US and building a wall on the US-Mexican border to keep out immigrants, winning the November election.
“When we look at the election results from [Tuesday] night, my question to the foreign minister is: what does he think about Donald Trump maybe being the next president of the US,” Hariede said to chuckles from his fellow MPs.
“I think that the challenges we face in Europe are complicated enough by themselves. If we are to also factor in the American primary elections, we are taking this to an even higher level of complexity,” the foreign minister said.
“As representative Hariede knows quite well, it’s not smart for a Norwegian foreign minister to have opinions on particular candidates in a democratic process taking place in another country. And this isn’t just any country, it is our closes ally. I’m following the election closely and am of course ready to have a good cooperation with the next administration,” Brende added.
News agency NTB also tried to get Prime Minister Erna Solberg to voice an opinion on Trump, who soared to victories in seven of 11 states on Super Tuesday and is quickly closing in on the Republican nomination.
“As the Norwegian prime minister, I have no opinion on the election or who should be the next president. I think that to protect Norwegian national interests, it is best to not comment on candidates in other countries,” she said.
Solberg and Brende’s carefully-worded neutral responses stood in contrast to some other European leaders on Wednesday.
The Danish foreign minister said that “it would be much, much more difficult to work with the US” if Trump were to become president, given “he changes opinions like the rest of us change underwear”.
Germany’s foreign minister meanwhile took a thinly veiled shot at the brash businessman, decrying the “politics of fear” in the US presidential campaign and saying that “building walls is a very bad idea – no matter who pays for them,” in reference to Trump’s vow to make Mexico foot the bill for a giant wall on the southern border of the United States.