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Posts tagged ‘Nordic Land of Norway’

Norway’s king hospitalized with infection

November 19, 2017

HELSINKI (AP) — Norway’s royal palace says King Harald has been hospitalized with an infection and remains in satisfactory condition with improving health. The royal palace said in a short statement Sunday that the 80-year-old monarch is being treated at an Oslo hospital where he was taken Friday but didn’t disclose further details.

In January 2016, Norway celebrated Harald’s 25th anniversary as monarch of the Scandinavian country. Harald became king when his father Olav died on Jan. 17, 1991. The Norwegian king has a ceremonial role and isn’t part of the government.

Harald celebrated his 80th birthday in February.

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Right holds onto power narrowly in Norway

September 12, 2017

STOCKHOLM (AP) — The center-right grouping that has governed Norway the past four years retained a narrow hold on power in national elections, according to near-complete results early Tuesday. With 95 percent of the votes counted, Prime Minister Erna Solberg’s Conservatives, coalition partner the Progress Party and two support parties, the Liberals and the Christian Democrats, looked likely to win a total of 89 seats in the 169-seat parliament, the Storting.

The election was a bitter disappointment for the leftist Labor Party. It remains the largest single party in parliament with 49 seats, but other likely coalition partners or support parties didn’t add enough to put the left in power.

There was no immediate announcement about forming a new government, but the four-party center-right alliance appeared almost certain to continue. “We delivered on what we promised,” Solberg said at party headquarters. “It seems that there will be a clear non-socialist majority in this election.”

Labor leader Jonas Gahr Store was chastened. “As it seems now, it just did not happen,” he said, according to the Norwegian news agency NTB. Although the center-right grouping had steered Norway through crises over a sharp influx of migrants and the decline in global prices for the oil and gas that are the backbone of the country’s prosperity and comfort, some analysts were surprised that Labor lost significant ground. Its 49 seats were a loss of six from what it held in the previous parliament.

“Labor had a sensationally bad election. It is quite unusual for an opposition party to go back this way,” NTB quoted political analyst Svein Erik Tuastad as saying. The election was a contest over national values, including how welcoming the wealthy country should be to migrants and asylum-seekers and how close it should be to the European Union.

Many Norwegians see the Britain as a model for severing ties to the 28-nation EU. Although not a member, Norway has access to the EU’s single market of a half billion people, accepts the free movement of EU workers, enacts reams of EU laws and pays a membership fee to do that.

The rural Center Party, which was the election’s single biggest winner with a gain of 10 seats, has called for a public inquiry into the country’s relationship with the EU. But both Labor and the Conservatives are committed to the current arrangement. They also have ruled out ending oil and gas exploration — a demand of the Greens who remained static with a single seat.

Associated Press writer Jim Heintz reported this story from Moscow and AP writer David Keyton reported in Stockholm.

Norway to Brazil: Curb deforestation or we stop the money

June 23, 2017

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Norway’s prime minister warned Brazil’s president on Friday to curb deforestation in the Amazon or Norway will reduce its financial contribution to the project this year. The announcement comes as the Amazon and Atlantic rainforests are being cut down at the fastest rate in nearly a decade, according to official Brazilian figures.

Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg said Norway’s more than $1 billion contribution to the so-called Amazon fund is “based on results,” Norway’s NTB news agency said. Since 2001, Norway has donated billions to encourage the conservation of forests.

“If preliminary figures about deforestation in 2016 are confirmed, it will lead to a reduced payout in 2017,” Solberg said after meeting with Brazilian President Michel Temer in Oslo. Temer praised Norway’s contribution to the fund but declined to take questions from media after he and Solberg had made their statements.

“This contribution has enabled us to make a more effective impact to avoiding deforestation,” Temer said, according to NTB. Temer said Monday he had vetoed legislation to reduce the size of protected environmental reserves. However, the apparent victory for environmental groups most likely will be short-lived, as Brazilian Environment Minister Jose Sarney Filho is working on similar legislation.

The legislation passed by Brazil’s Congress last month would have converted around 1.4 million acres (566,000 hectares) of protected land into areas open to logging, mining and agricultural use. However, last week, Filho announced plans to create a new expedited bill that would convert 1.1 million acres of protected land to other uses.

Last year, deforestation in the Amazon jumped 29 percent over the previous year, according to the Brazilian government’s satellite monitoring. That was the highest rate since 2008. Before his meeting with Solberg, Temer was met by protesters holding posters reading “Stop rainforest destruction” and “Respect indigenous peoples’ rights” as he arrived at the prime minister’s office in Oslo.

Purged from Turkish army, NATO officers get asylum in Norway

April 08, 2017

STAVANGER, Norway (AP) — Norway and Turkey — NATO’s northern and southern frontiers in Europe — have been pillars of the Western military alliance for more than 60 years. But the diplomatic temperature between the two has fallen steadily since Turkey recalled dozens of military officers as suspects in an aborted coup — and Norway became the first nation to grant some of them asylum.

The government in Oslo agreed last month to protect four Turkish officers who had been assigned to NATO and, like colleagues in Germany and Brussels, fear they could be imprisoned as terrorists if they go back to their country. Turkey’s Foreign Ministry summoned the Norwegian ambassador for an explanation while the officers remain in Stavanger, a city on Norway’s west coast that lies 3,800 kilometers (2,360 miles) from Ankara.

“We see that this is a difficult decision for Norway because of the alliance, and it can cause big problems for NATO, so we appreciate that they have put human rights over political decisions,” one of the officers given asylum said. “Norway still says you are innocent until proven guilty … in Turkey, you have to prove your innocence.”

The men trying to forge new lives in Stavanger are among a cadre of commissioned Turkish officers who were working at NATO facilities around Europe during Turkey’s July 15 thwarted coup. The Turkish government suspects of playing a role in the failed coup, and the men have asked not to be named for fear of reprisals against their families in Turkey.

“Some of my colleagues in other NATO headquarters did return to Turkey. They were detained at the airport in front of their families, their children. It would be very difficult to go back to Turkey now,” one senior officer said. “We have small kids, and we have to save their lives.”

The former officers bristle at being branded “traitors.” Each man was on leave when the plot unfolded and claims he has a firm alibi. With their bank accounts frozen, their successful military careers suddenly cut short and hopes for fair trials in Turkey shattered, they say they had no choice but to seek asylum in Norway, where they filed for protection between August 13 and October 19.

One of the men was fired by telephone. Another received a call ordering him to leave Norway within three days. Two watched in horror as their names appeared on “blacklists” of soldiers commanded back to Turkey.

“When I saw the list and my name in the list, I tried to understand the reason … but there was nothing about this on the paper. There were just one or two or three sentences calling us back,” one said. “It was a terrible period. I knew I would lose my rights, my past, my family, everything.”

The men say they have seen social media videos of other Turkish officers being tortured in jail and have desperately tried to reach military friends back home. They say some have disappeared, while others were forced into giving confessions.

“After the coup, 160 generals and 7,000 military officers have been arrested,” one of the officers said bitterly. “If these persons were involved in this coup, the result must have been different.” The government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan alleges that the coup was carried out by followers of a U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, who denies orchestrating a takeover. More than 150,000 people have been taken into custody, fired or forced to retire from Turkey’s armed forces, judiciary, education system and other public institutions since the coup attempt.

Even Gulenists who did not take part in the coup attempt are considered a serious security threat now and are being purged from Turkey’s military. The four former officers in Norway deny being Gulen supporters and think the government is using the coup as an excuse to crush its critics.

“We are hearing that people’s wives are accused of being plotters and traitors. If one of your relatives has money in a certain bank, or you were using certain social media on the day of the coup, you are accused of being involved,” one said.

Turkey responded angrily to Norway granting the officers asylum, protesting that a NATO ally offered the men “support to abuse the country’s political, social and economic opportunities” instead of ensuring their return to Turkey.

The men’s lawyer, Kjell Brygfjeld, thinks the four cases were fast-tracked through the sometimes clogged Norwegian asylum system. One of the former officers said his asylum petition was approved without his needing to provide documents proving he was in danger.

“Norway can see what is going on,” he said. As political refugees, they face the possibility of never returning to Turkey and uncertain futures in NATO’s northern outpost. Dressed in the casual cold-weather wear of Norwegian civilians during an early spring evening on the Stavanger fjord, the four officers joked that they’ve already embraced a Nordic lifestyle.

And even though the winter nights seem long in Norway, they know that their situations could have been much darker. “It’s impossible for me to disconnect from Turkey,” one of the officers said. “All of my friends — most of the friends are now in jail. And their families suffer because of this. And there is just one voice in Turkey, so no one hears their screams.”

David Keyton contributed to this report in Stavanger.

US to deploy 330 troops in Norway

Oslo (AFP)

Oct 24, 2016

The United States will deploy over 300 troops in Norway, the Norwegian government announced Monday, in a move set to upset neighboring Russia.

The 330 Marines, to be stationed on rotation around 1.000 kilometers (600 miles) from the Russian border, will be engaged in training and maneuvers in almost Arctic conditions, the Norwegian defense ministry said.

The announcement comes against a backdrop of increasing tensions between Russia and the West over Ukraine and the conflict in Syria, although Norway itself enjoys good relations with its giant neighbor.

The US already has vast amounts of military equipment positioned in NATO ally Norway — notably in tunnels dug into mountains — but no troops.

“This US-initiative is welcome and also fits well within ongoing processes in NATO to increase exercises, training and interoperability within the Alliance,” Norwegian Defense Minister Ine Eriksen Soreide said in the statement.

“The defense of Norway is dependent on allied reinforcements, and it is crucial for Norwegian security that our allies come here to gain knowledge of how to operate in Norway and with Norwegian forces,” she added.

Before joining NATO in 1949, Norway allayed Russian fears by pledging not to open its territory to foreign combat troops so long as Norway was not attacked or threatened with attack.

This pledge was later amended to allow foreign troops to conduct maneuvers in Norway.

The deployment, which will begin in January, is a US initiative which Oslo is presenting as a trial to be evaluated during 2017.

Last week the Russian embassy in Oslo expressed surprise as the idea of stationing US troops in Norway was mooted.

“Taking into account multiple statements made by Norwegian officials about the absence of threat from Russia to Norway, we would like to understand why Norway is so much willing to increase its military potential, in particular through the stationing of American forces in Vaernes,” embassy spokesman Maxime Gourov said in an email sent to AFP on Friday.

Former senior Norwegian army officer Jacob Borresen said the planned deployment “sends negative signals eastwards”.

The big risk, he told broadcaster NRK, is that the move creates a Cold War-style “confrontation zone”.

In July, NATO announced it would deploy, also on a rotational basis, four multinational battalions to Poland and to Baltic states to deter any Russian incursion.

Source: Space Daily.

Link: http://www.spacedaily.com/reports/US_to_deploy_330_troops_in_Norway_999.html.

Lithuania signs missile agreement with Norway

by Geoff Ziezulewicz

Vilnius, Lithuania (UPI)

Oct 24, 2016

Lithuania has signed an agreement worth $108 million with Norway for the procurement of the Norwegian Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System, or NASAMS.

The deal, signed last week by the ministries of defense for each country, covers the sale as well as future support Norway would render to Lithuania in developing midrange air defense capabilities, the Lithuanian ministry said in a statement.

This acquisition and others will combine into an air defense system that offers Lithuania aerial surveillance and control, early warning for ground units and the ability to destroy targets if needed.

Two defense batteries will be acquired under the deal.

The midrange NASAMS equipment is scheduled to be delivered to Lithuania by 2020.

NASAMS was co-developed by Norwegian company Kongsberg and Raytheon…

Source: Space Daily.

Link: http://www.spacedaily.com/reports/Lithuania_signs_missile_agreement_with_Norway_999.html.

Norwegian returns home after yearlong captivity Philippines

September 23, 2016

STOCKHOLM (AP) — A Norwegian man who was freed by militants in the Philippines has returned home after a year of jungle captivity. Kjartan Sekkingstad arrived in Oslo on Friday, six days after being released by Abu Sayyaf extremists who had kidnapped him along with two Canadians who were later beheaded and a Filipino woman.

The 57-year-old Norwegian told reporters he had experienced “a year of terror,” with little food, long jungle treks and a constant fear of being killed. He recalled feeling “helpless” seeing his captors take away the first Canadian hostage to be executed “but there was nothing you could do.”

Abu Sayyaf released Sekkingstad last Saturday to a rebel group, which handed him over to Philippine authorities. Sekkingstad was kidnapped from a yacht club he helped manage in September 2015.

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