News Analysis: The Norwegian Parliament paved the way for US troops to launch their own operations at four Norwegian bases. Although not completely welcomed, the majority support the government’s new “defense pact” with the United States and have been the largest Norwegian basic policy since Norway joined NATO in 1949. Brought about the change.

US troops will be able to officially set up their own “agreeed operational areas” at four Norwegian military bases, including Rygge, about an hour’s drive south of Oslo. Photo: Forsvaret / Theodor Obrestad Schei

The agreement, initiated by the United States last year when the former Conservative-led coalition was still in power, was signed by former Prime Minister Erna Solberg. It was subsequently approved by its successor, Labor Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre, but was considered a “particularly important” issue and the Norwegian Constitution also required parliamentary approval.

It was formalized shortly before the summer weekend, with both Labor and Conservatives voting in favor, as did the Center Party, Progressive Party, Liberal Party, and Christian Democratic Party. The Labor Center government needed the support of the opposition in parliament as the controversial changes in basic policy split the opposition on the left.

“American Zone”
The Reds, Greens and the Socialist Left Party (SV) all voted against the deal. They are their own “American Zone” where Americans ignore Norwegian laws and regulations and replace their troops with four bases: Rygge in Østfold, Sora near Stavanger, Evenes and Ramsund for at least the next decade. Claims to be able to set. Between Harstad and Narvik in northern Norway.

Opponents also argue that the new agreement is completely contrary to the Norwegian basic policy that has been in place for the past 73 years. It categorically eliminated the permanent existence of “foreign powers” in Norwegian territory in peacetime as a means of soothing the former Soviet Union at the time. Conflicts have arisen over the definition of “permanent,” and Norwegian and US officials claim that US soldiers and officers will not be permanently deployed. Opponents of the deal still claim to inspire Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has shown his ruthlessness this spring after ordering the invasion of Ukraine.

Arild Hermstad of the Greens told the newspaper, “We are against the agreement because we have given Americans many rights to Norwegian territory and Norway has relinquished its powers too much.” Klassekampen Late last week. “The legal aspect of it is problematic and has denied full insight into what can happen at what I call a (US)” semi-permanent “military base. “

It was natural that the Reds and SV also opposed it. Learn how Americans can move to the “generally agreed areas” of the four bases and set up their own post offices, banks, shops, entertainment venues, and police authorities. US law applies to the new exclusive zone of Americans, exempting almost all Norwegian taxes and fees, except road tolls, even if children of US soldiers can attend Norwegian schools.

Americans can also store and use military equipment they feel they need without disclosing its details. It caused fear of nuclear weapons in Norwegian territory, which SVs, Reds and Greens are firmly opposed to.

They are not alone. A long list of Norwegian organizations that oppose the new defense pact with the United States (and generally enhance its presence) are positively opposed. Several branches of the LO, Norway’s largest trade union federation, also argue that the agreement could violate Norway’s basic policies, weaken Norway’s sovereignty, increase the risk of nuclear weapons, and weaken rather than increase security. He has joined various environmental and peace-related groups.

“Nonsense” claims most of Norway’s top politicians A person who insists on the opposite. They firmly insist that the greater presence of both the United States and other NATO allies in Norway will further enhance national security. They claim that it is more important than ever after Putin began a war with neighboring Ukraine. Since Norway is also one of Russia’s neighbors, supporters of the agreement claim that defense capabilities have also skyrocketed in importance.

“Defense cooperation with the United States has been fundamentally important to Norway’s security for over 70 years,” Norwegian new Defense Minister Bjorn Alald Gram declared on Friday from the parliamentary podium. “And for decades, US training and defense custody in Norway has expressed common interests with transatlantic solidarity.”

Gram argued that the agreement furthered Norway’s defense cooperation with the United States and was “most important to Norway’s security.” He said Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 and then its invasion of Ukraine underscores the need for closer alliance cooperation across Europe.

Norwegian Defense Minister Bjorn Arildo Gram participated in a recent European defense exercise on the island of Bornholm in Denmark in the Baltic Sea, with the active involvement of the United States. Photo: Forsvaret

He acknowledged that the basic agreement “beyond” the previous agreement on American rights in Norway, but argued that it also protected Norwegian interests. He was clearly relieved that Congress’s own diplomatic and defense committee did not allow the “permanent deployment” of US troops in peacetime and concluded that it had no goals other than the defense of Norway and NATO. The US military will be replaced, the agreement will be limited to 10 years and then renegotiated.

In many respects, the defense pact seems to provide a kind of diplomatic immunity that foreign embassy staff already have. Diplomats also do not have to pay taxes, are free to import their products and are not subject to Norwegian law. Gram claims that all crimes committed by Americans in Norway will be prosecuted, but “follow the trajectory of the United States.”

Gram also argued that the defense pact sent “clear and important cues to other parts of the world” and that Norway’s long-term bilateral cooperation with the United States remains strong and “more powerful in the future.” ing.

He is also busy reassuring local officials In the area where the four bases are located, the local media is defending the agreement. He met with local mayors from Rygge in the south to Evenes and Ramsund in the north, emphasizing that Americans wouldn’t be able to do anything they wanted. Municipalities, like all other local building projects, will be involved in planning and construction projects related to the agreement, he said.

“It’s too early to say what kind of investment will be made,” Gram wrote in a commentary in a local newspaper, but he said local Norwegian companies could dispute contracts. rice field. Both Rygge and Sola are developed to better respond to the Air Force of allies, including Rygge fighters. Nights have been improved to accommodate the Navy and Air Force, making Ramsund an important center for logistics and supply.

“Unfortunately, the war in Ukraine emphasizes how important it is for Norway to actively work with the United States, NATO and its neighbors in Scandinavia to protect Europe’s security, democracy and freedom. Contributed to, “Gram wrote. Not everyone is convinced.

“There are still too many areas where the United States is allowed to define power and authority,” said Gerald Folkboard of Amnesty International Norway. Klassekampen.. “I think it’s scary … There are many documented examples of how the United States does not respect the laws of its allies, even on the territory of its allies. The strategic interests of the United States itself are always a top priority.” Berglund

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