The Government will intensify European cooperation and redouble its efforts in unstable areas to the south and east of Europe, while maintaining and further developing its transatlantic cooperation. These are some of the main conclusions in the Government's white paper on Norwegian foreign and security policy, which was launched today.
'The security situation is difficult. This white paper presents the Government's views on the course Norway should follow to be as well-equipped as possible to meet today's challenges. It is in Norway's interest to maintain the well-established contours of Norwegian security policy. At the same time, we need to adapt our policy to the new challenges we are encountering in fragile states and in the fight against terrorism,' Minister of Foreign Affairs Børge Brende said.
In the white paper, the Government recommends strengthening existing foreign and security policy tools. 'We must maintain and further develop our transatlantic cooperation, pursue a consistent, predictable policy in relation to Russia and continue our strong engagement for an international order based on values that are important to Norway. NATO and the US security guarantee will remain the cornerstone of Norway's security policy,' said Mr Brende.
'A strong national defence capability is crucial. The Government's strategy for dealing with the security challenges facing Norway is based on the Long-Term Defence Plan, the white paper on civil protection and the white paper being launched today,' said Minister of Defence Ine Eriksen Søreide.
One key conclusion in the white paper is that Norway should develop closer security policy cooperation with European allies and the other Nordic countries. 'We will build closer ties with Germany, the UK, France and the Netherlands in the field of security policy,' Mr Brende said.
The white paper announces plans for intensified efforts in unstable countries and regions near Europe's southern border.
'War, conflict and weak state structures in Europe's neighbourhood give rise to security challenges in Norway. The Government will implement a strategy to strengthen Norway's engagement in fragile states and regions in the Middle East, North Africa and the Sahel. These countries need assistance to improve the lives of their own people. Moreover, greater stability is in Norway's interest,' said Mr Brende.
In autumn 2015, the Government launched a comprehensive review of Norwegian foreign and security policy. For a year and a half, a project group has provided forums for public debate on the main contours of Norwegian foreign and security policy. In addition, input has been gathered from research groups at home and abroad. The project has culminated in the white paper on foreign and security policy, which adapts Norwegian policy to a more challenging and unpredictable security situation.
The white paper states that Norway will:
-- Further develop its close security policy cooperation with the US, and develop a long-term strategy for relations with the US.
-- Further develop its close defence policy cooperation and security policy dialogue with Germany, the UK, the Netherlands and France.
-- Strengthen the Norwegian armed forces, and gradually increase the defence budget to reach NATO's 2 % target.
-- Intensify efforts in fragile states in the Middle East, North Africa and the Sahel. There will be a considerable increase in Norwegian aid to this region, and Norway will have a stronger presence with the establishment of new embassies in Tunisia and Mali. A strategy for Norway's efforts in fragile states will be launched.
-- Contribute to efforts to promote peace and stability in Europe by doubling assistance to the Western Balkans.
-- Strengthen research efforts in the north, and present a new Arctic strategy.
-- Shoulder its share of the responsibility internationally by seeking membership of the UN Security Council for the period 2021-2022 and chairmanship of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) in 2020.
-- Seek closer security policy cooperation with the EU. Ensure better access for Norway in the planning and implementation of EU operations.
-- Strengthen the dialogue with our Nordic neighbours by organising regular six-monthly meetings of Nordic foreign ministers.