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POLITICS

Norway and UK sign joint declaration on cooperation 

Norwegian PM Jonas Gahr Støre met his UK counterpart Boris Johnson in London on Friday, where the pair signed a joint declaration on strategic cooperation between the two countries. 

Jonas Gahr Store and Boris Johnson.
Norway and the UK have singed a joint declaration on cooperation. Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson greets Norway's Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store outside 10 Downing Street in central London on May 13, 2022, ahead of their meeting. Photo by Daniel LEAL / AFP.

Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre visited Downing Street on Friday and met UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, where the pair signed a declaration of cooperation between the two countries. 

“Britain is a good neighbour and close ally. We have a long tradition of close cooperation. The British are now outside the EU, and bilateral cooperation is becoming even more important than before,” Støre said in a statement on the government’s website

The joint declaration on bilateral strategic cooperation outlines defence and security, the climate and environment, research and innovation and education and culture as issues the two countries wish to cooperate on in the future. 

Støre’s visit was the first bilateral meeting of the countries’ PMs since Brexit. The pair also discussed the green shift, the war in Ukraine and defence. 

Støre also arranged a round table conference on energy, the climate and business with the UK Minister of Trade, Kwasi Kwarteng, and a number of representatives from Norwegian and British firms. 

“The green transition is important for our two countries. I spoke about our great ambitions for offshore wind, and this is one of many areas where Norway and the United Kingdom can cooperate more,” Støre said. 

Earlier this week, the Norwegian government announced that it would build 1,500 offshore wind turbines by 2040

Last year, the UK and Norway signed a post-Brexit trade deal, which the Norwegian government said was the largest free trade agreement the country had entered into outside of its arrangement with the European Economic Area. 

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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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