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Norway seeking 'active' role in EU's defence strategy

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Norway seeking 'active' role in EU's defence strategy
EEA and EU Affairs Minister Elisabeth Vik Aspaker addressed parliament on Tuesday. Photo: Terje Bendiksby / NTB scanpix
14:23 CET+01:00
Norway wants to be an active participant in the the EU's efforts to strengthen its defence and security policy cooperation, EEA and EU Affairs Minister Elisabeth Vik Aspaker said on Tuesday.
An improved European capacity for crisis management would strengthen the international community and benefit Norway, she stressed in her semi-annual address to parliament on vital EEA and EU issues. 
 
“Norway will therefore actively participate in the EU's efforts to develop and strengthen military capabilities. That is how we will strengthen European defence capabilities and our own, as well as our ability to operate together,” she said.
 
Vik Aspaker said she saw no problem in Norway participating actively in the EU’s defence policy despite not being a member of the union. 
 
“We discuss policy with the EU in many areas. With the large concurrence between EU and Nato members, it’s not unnatural to discuss this as well,” she told NTB. 
 
Vik Aspaker also used her remarks to parliament to say that the UK is closely eyeing Norway’s relationship to the EU as a potential model for its post-Brexit future. 
 
She noted that an EEA type agreement does not “seem to be an appropriate option for the Brits” based on Prime Minister Theresa May’s recent comments. 
 
“Norway’s relationship to the EU is, however, an important reference for discussions about possible solutions. The British have therefore shown great interest in learning more about our agreement with the EU,” she said. 
 
The minister did not offer any clues about what type of arrangement Norway would have with the UK in the future. 
 
“It will be in Norway's interest to maintain an equally tight trade policy agreement with Britain and equally good access to the UK market as today, while the EEA Agreement and other agreements Norway has with the EU, are safeguarded,” she said. 

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