19 March 2003


No sharper criticism of USA from Petersen (Aftenposten)

Foreign Minister Jan Petersen does not intend to sharpen his criticism of the USA’s drive for a military solution in Iraq. And he leaves no doubt about which side Norway is on when push comes to shove. Even though the Government has said it does not approve of a US attack on Iraq without a UN mandate, Norway is in no way neutral with regard to the outcome. Mr Petersen sees no need to repeat the Norwegian point of view, which is well known to the USA. “It would be madness to hope that Saddam wins the encounter. That much must be quite clear. No one would shed a tear if he disappeared from power in Iraq,” said Mr Petersen.

Resounding Norwegian no to war in Iraq (Aftenposten)

Two out of three Norwegian voters are opposed to a war in Iraq, even if Saddam Hussein does not leave the country. Eight out of ten people think it is right of Norway not to support the USA and Britain’s decision to take military action against Iraq. An opinion poll shows that the Norwegian people’s opposition to war is strong, even after the decision by the USA and Britain to take military action against Iraq without the backing of a new UN resolution. There is an anti-war majority among voters of all parties, except the Conservative Party and the Progress Party.

Swedish bid rejected by Gjensidige Nor (Dagens Næringsliv)

Gjensidige Nor’s chairman Bjørn Sund has rejected a merger invitation from the Swedish bank FöreningsSparebanken, whose bid is thought to have been considerably higher than that offered to shareholders in connection with a merger with Den norske Bank (DnB). The Swedish invitation was received last weekend. The offer is thought to have contained a minimum bid which was well over that shareholders will receive in connection with a merger with DnB. Gjensidige Nor’s shareholders were also promised a far larger cash component than they would get in a merger with DnB. However, the invitation was brushed aside by Gjensidige Nor’s chairman Bjørn Sund. Neither he nor company chief executive Olav Hytta want to join forces with a foreign partner. Gjensidige Nor and DnB agreed yesterday to merge the two companies. The new company will be called DnB Nor.

Call for weapons boycott (Klassekampen)

Members of both the ruling coalition parties and the opposition are complaining that the Government is not putting sufficient distance between itself and the USA’s forthcoming war in Iraq. The Christian Democratic Party’s foreign policy spokesman Lars Rise thinks Norway should stop selling weapons to the USA. Mr Rise agrees with the views of the Socialist Left Party’s Kjetil Bjørklund on weapons exports to the USA. He is advocating a weapons boycott of countries which go to war in violation of international law. “Basically, we do not sell weapons to countries that are at war, with the exception of allies and possibly also in situations where we ourselves are involved,” said Mr Rise.

SAS close to the brink (Dagsavisen)

Scandinavian Airlines, the largest airline in the SAS Group, could be just a few short weeks away from the brink. SAS’s other subsidiaries have already prepared emergency plans for how they can take over their sister company’s network of routes. The SAS Group’s board of directors meets today to choose between alternative measures which corporate management feels are necessary if Scandinavian Airlines is to have a continued role in the airline industry. After that, the employees will have three weeks in which to respond. A new board meeting is scheduled for 10 April, at which time the company’s final cost-cutting plans will be discussed. Scandinavian Airlines’ very existence could depend on the outcome of that meeting.

Worth Noting

  • Norwegian Church Aid worker Tor Valla was arrested in Iraq yesterday, near the Jordanian border. Mr Valla was in possession of USD 25,000 and was brought back into the country because, according to Iraqi police, he could not explain what he was doing with the money. Norwegian Church Aid is making every effort to document that the money has been obtained by legal means, so that Mr Valla can leave the country by the end of the day.
    (Verdens Gang)

  • Kristin Krohn Devold’s chances of becoming Nato’s next General Secretary are being hampered by the fact that Norway is not a member of the EU. Few people place much emphasis on the fact that her career in international politics has been short, while the fact that she is a woman is seen as a major advantage.

  • “A few years ago the EU was the one to drag its feet on environmental issues, while Norway led the field. Now the picture is changing,” said Environment Minister Børge Brende. “A number of EU directives are now forcing Norway to pursue stricter environmental policies than before. But in other areas we are still in the lead,” he said.

  • The Directorate of Labour believes that unemployment this year will be higher than previous estimates have indicated. The October 2002 forecast of 87,000 registered unemployed in 2003 has been raised to 93,000.

Today’s comment from Vårt Land

Norway is experiencing a loss of innocence. Previously, murder was a rare occurrence, but last year 40 people were killed in Norway. And the figure continues to rise. In the course of the first 11 weeks of this year, 17 people have been killed. Accepting such a trend as being an inevitable part of nature, means resigning in the face of the brutalization of society. The most important reason for the figures not being higher is that social relations in our country have been uncomplicated. Openness and closeness between local people has undoubtedly promoted a community spirit that has had a healing effect on the individual and prevented the use of violence. This year’s murder figures can be interpreted as indicating that local communities’ traditional values are under pressure. If this is the case, the response must be a counter-culture in the form of specific measures that make it the task of both politicians and every individual to strengthen the community as a positive force – where problems are solved without recourse to violence and killing.


Biathlon World Championships:

Gunn Margit Andreassen won the bronze medal in the 15 km women’s event on Tuesday.