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Norway’s Defence Minister resigns over affair with young woman

Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre told reporters that he wished to find a new defence minister as soon as possible.

Norway's Defence Minister resigns over affair with young woman
Norway's now former defence minister Odd Roger Enoksen resigne after details of an affair with a much younger women came out. (Credit: Marita Isaksen Wangberg, FD)

Norway’s government announced Saturday that defence minister Odd Roger Enoksen was resigning following revelations that he had a years-long affair with a much younger woman.

“It is a necessary decision, after what has surfaced in this matter,” Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store told a press conference where he confirmed that he had accepted Enoksen’s resignation.

“I have made several bad choices and judgements, and will give an unreserved apology for the fact that my actions have made life more difficult for others,” Enoksen told news agency NTB earlier on Saturday.

READ ALSO: Norwegian minister resigns over commuter housing scandal

Enoksen started the affair in 2005 when his partner was still an 18-year-old high school student, according to daily VG.

Her class went on a school trip to Norway’s parliament in the capital Oslo and met the Centre Party politician, who was 50 at the time.

After the school trip she and Enoksen started what would become a very close and sexual relationship, VG wrote.

The woman, now in her 30s, detailed their relationship to the newspaper, saying she felt starstruck by Enoksen due to her interest in politics and that he “used his power and position to get what he wanted”.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: What you need to know about Norway’s border with Russia

According to the woman, they met at least 12 times in Enoksen’s office between late 2006 and 2007 while he was the energy minister, with some of the meetings involving “sexual acts”.

While Enoksen confirmed to VG that she had visited him in his office and said there might have been some talk of a lewd nature, he denied there was any physical aspect.

He instead claimed they did not become intimate until after he left the government in 2007, and stressed that the relationship was not one “where I was in a position of power over her”.

Prime Minister Store told reporters that Enoksen had not informed him about the affair before he was appointed defence minister following last year’s general election, adding the information would have led to a “different conclusion”.

Store added that he wished to find a new defence minister as soon as possible.

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RUSSIA

Norway says it hasn’t breached treaty by blocking Russian cargo to Svalbard

Norway is not breaching a century-old treaty covering the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard by blocking Russian cargo to the islands, the country's foreign minister said Wednesday after Moscow threatened retaliatory measures.

Norway says it hasn't breached treaty by blocking Russian cargo to Svalbard

“Norway does not violate the Svalbard Treaty,” foreign minister Anniken Huitfeldt told AFP. “Norway does not try to put obstacles in the way of supplies” to a Russian coal mining settlement in the area, she said, after Russia’s foreign ministry said it had summoned Norway’s charge d’affaires over the issue.

Moscow accused Norway of disrupting the work of the Russian consulate general on Spitsbergen, the largest island of the Svalbard archipelago. Norway has sovereignty over Svalbard but allows citizens of more than 40 countries to exploit the islands’ potentially vast resources on an equal footing.

Moscow has long wanted a bigger say in the archipelago — which it insists on calling Spitsbergen rather than the Norwegian Svalbard – which has been a haunt of its hunters, whalers and fishermen since the 16th century. The Svalbard Treaty handing sovereignty to Norway was signed in 1920.

Huitfeldt argued the shipment that was stopped at the Norwegian-Russian border “has been stopped on the basis of the sanctions that prohibit Russian road transport companies from transporting goods on Norwegian territory”.

Goods transport “does not have to go via mainland Norway by Russian truck”, she said, suggesting other solutions could be found to supply the mining community.

Svalbard was exempt from a ban on port calls by Russian-flagged vessels, “and we have clearly signalled our willingness to consider a dispensation from the flight ban”, the minister said.

The situation in the town of Barentsburg, home to the Russian miners, was “normal”, she said.

“Residents have access to food and medicine,” Huitfeldt said. “It is not Norwegian policy to try to force Russian companies or citizens away from Svalbard, or to put obstacles in the way of the business that takes place in accordance with Norwegian laws and regulations.

“At the same time, Norway’s necessary reaction to Russia’s war in Ukraine may also have practical consequences for Russian companies on Svalbard, as in Norway in general,” Huitfeldt said.

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