20 February 2003


Krekar to be deported – but cannot be forcibly expelled (Aftenposten)

Local Government and Regional Affairs Minister Erna Solberg has made up her mind: Mullah Krekar is to be sent back to the territory controlled by Ansar al-Islam in northern Iraq. But, according to expert Henrik Thune, it would be almost impossible to deport him there without simultaneously recognizing Ansar al-Islam as a sovereign state, which would be a violation of international law. Mullah Krekar will lodge an appeal against the Minister’s ruling with the Immigration Appeals Board, and if necessary will bring the deportation order before the courts. “The only thing that is correct in the deportation order is that I have been in northern Iraq,” he said yesterday. “Mullah Krekar can appeal to the Immigration Appeals Board, initiate a civil action and then take his case to the Appeal Court and the Supreme Court. This process could take several years. While that is going on it will be up to the authorities to decide if he will be allowed to remain in this country. He has no automatic right to stay here,” said professor Ståle Eskeland of the University of Oslo’s law faculty.

Bush to visit Norway when Bondevik away in Japan (Aftenposten)

Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik will have to unravel a knotty diplomatic problem if US President George W. Bush comes to Oslo as planned at the end of May. Mr Bondevik is scheduled to travel to Japan on 25 May, in all probability the day Mr Bush will arrive in Norway. It is not a simple matter to change the date of Mr Bondevik’s visit to Japan because a substantial Norwegian business delegation has arranged a large number of events there at the end of May. President Bush’s proposed stopover in Norway is probably to mark the USA’s appreciation of Norway’s participation in the battle against international terrorism, particularly in Afghanistan. But visiting Norway is not the main purpose of President Bush’s trip. He is going to St Petersburg, which this year celebrates its tri-centenary, where he will meet Russia’s President Vladimir Putin. The official celebrations begin on 27 May. This means that President Bush will have to arrive in Norway on the evening of the 25th and leave again on Monday, 26 May.

But why is he coming? (Dagsavisen)

Political experts have put forward divergent theories as to why President George W. Bush should choose to come to Norway in May. “It is both surprising and interesting that President Bush wants to come to Norway at this time,” said Svein Melby of the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI). Ole O. Moen, senior lecturer at the Institute for American Studies at the University of Oslo, believes oil is the key to Bush’s visit to Norway. In the aftermath of a possible war in Iraq, the USA may need access to Norwegian oil supplies. “It could be that President Bush wants the chance to squeeze some oil out of Bondevik and Statoil. But I think it could be equally important that Norway has reasonably good relations with OPEC,” said Mr Moen, who does not rule out the possibility that President Bush is angling for a Nobel Peace Prize.

Labour could drop EU membership as campaign issue at next election (Vårt Land)

If necessary, the Labour Party is prepared to take its time over EU membership. It is not certain that the party will include Norwegian EU membership in its manifesto ahead of the 2005 general elections. Even though the party leadership is planning a process which will conclude with the annual conference – probably in the spring of 2005 – debating whether to include a recommendation to apply for EU membership in its election manifesto, there are a lot of things which have to fall into line before this could happen. The party’s foremost supporter of EU membership, Thorbjørn Jagland, has repeated again and again that EU membership is vital for Norway. But centrally placed sources within the party have indicated to Vårt Land that the stance being taken by the party leadership is more guarded than the impression given in the media.

Stock Exchange celebrates Nagell-Erichsen conviction (Aftenposten)

The Banking, Insurance and Securities Commission and the Oslo Stock Exchange view the first ever conviction for insider trading in which the defendant was given an unconditional prison term as a victory for public confidence in the stock market. “We hope that the verdict will have a preventive effect,” said Tore Arne Olsen, a spokesman for the Oslo Stock Exchange. The Oslo District Court found investor Einar Christian Nagell-Erichsen guilty on all counts. Mr Nagell-Erichsen has lodged an appeal against his conviction and his sentence of one year’s imprisonment, of which two months were made unconditional. Only one other person has been convicted of insider trading since the law regulating the practice came into force in 1985. That conviction, in which a portfolio manager with Vesta bought shares in the restaurant chain Peppes Pizza, is one of the main reasons that the Oslo Stock Exchange has been branded an insiders’ stock market and a paradise for insider traders.

Worth Noting

  • 68 per cent of Norwegian men welcome President Bush’s visit, compared with 39.5 per cent of Norwegian women, according to an opinion poll carried out by Imnijet on behalf of VG yesterday evening. The survey reveals that the Bush visit has divided Norway – and also men and women.
    (Verdens Gang)

  • The Socialist Left Party believes that the Government and Local Government Minister Erna Solberg has handled the Krekar case more or less correctly. But the party’s deputy leader is questioning whether we view terrorism purely through Norwegian eyes. Labour’s immigration policy spokeswoman Signe Øye believes Ms Solberg made the right decision in expelling Mullah Krekar.

  • The Helsinki Committee and Amnesty International have reacted negatively to the news of Mullah Krekar’s expulsion, while the Socialist Left Party has adopted a wait-and-see attitude. Petter Eide, Secretary General of Amnesty International in Norway, says it is cowardly and lacking in principle for Norway to expel Mullah Krekar. Mr Eide believes Krekar should have been put on trial in Norway.

  • Norway is planning to grant USD 70 million, or around NOK 500 million, in financial support to the Palestinian authorities in 2003. “We hope the quartet (the USA, EU, UN and Russia) will soon agree a road map that can lead the parties back onto the road to peace,” said Foreign Minister Jan Petersen in a Foreign Ministry press release.

  • When Central Bank Governor Svein Gjedrem mounts the podium this evening to deliver his first annual report, the backdrop for his speech will be a Norwegian economy with the brakes on all four wheels. “If you look at a number of macro-economic indicators, the picture has changed dramatically over the past few months. It is now very uncertain how the economic situation will develop,” said Karl Johan Haarberg, an analyst with Nordea Markets.

  • The European Commission’s demands for financial compensation from the EFTA countries in return for an extension of the EEA Agreement to cover the new EU member states may seem unreasonable. The problem is that the extension of the EEA Agreement is a forgotten issue within the EU. Norway is fighting for something that has no place in the Europe of the future.
    (Dagens Næringsliv)

  • Profits for the Nordic region’s largest commercial bank, Nordea, were down by a half in 2002 compared with the year before. Loans to Norwegian fish farmers were among the largest loss-making ventures. Nordea has lent a total of EUR 2.4 billion (NOK 18 billion) to the fisheries sector, of which around 40 per cent has gone to the fish farming industry.

  • One in four farmers is engaged in other business activities in addition to running the farm, according to a recent survey carried out by the Nordland Research Institute. In addition, one in ten farmers say they are in the process of setting up such outside business enterprises.

  • Keiko, the celebrity killer whale, went AWOL on Tuesday night. He was discovered several nautical miles from his base at Takneset in Halsa, on the west coast. Lars Lillebø, a spokesman for the Halsa local authority, says that the reason for Keiko’s wanderlust is a combination of spring fever and the fact that he can sense a change in the sea.

Today’s comment from Dagbladet

US President George W. Bush is planning a stopover in Oslo on his way to a meeting of the world’s major powers, now known as the G8 group since Russia was invited to join. He should be made to feel very welcome here, regardless of how much we might disagree with his Iraq policy by the end of May. This is a disagreement between nations with a long history of friendship and alliance. It is crucial for small countries that the major powers take an active part in multinational organizations and maintain a dialogue with the world’s small states. The Bush administration has generated uncertainty about the USA’s attitude to international agreements and international cooperation. But since last autumn, the USA has followed the UN track in relation to the Iraq crisis. Norway has an especially close relationship with the USA. As a proportion of its population, only Ireland sent more emigrants across the Atlantic. After the second world war, Norway abandoned its pre-war policy of neutrality and joined Nato, the US-dominated western defence alliance. During the cold war, which lasted for 40 years, it was the USA that provided our guarantee of security against pressure from the Soviet Union. Norway has been a faithful ally, but one not without its own voice. During the Vietnam war, the disagreement was greater than it is today, as it was with regard to the locating of nuclear missiles in Europe – both in the 1950s and 1980s. But there is no reason to believe that President Bush has chosen to stop over in Oslo because Norway has suddenly acquired a new and greater significance. The new US Ambassador here is both a major campaign contributor and good friend of the President and his family.