Speech/statement | Date: 20/04/2016 | Ministry of Foreign Affairs
'When the terrorists attack Europe, they are not only attacking a city or a country. They are attacking our common European values', Minister of Foreign Affairs, Børge Brende, said in his speech in Brussels.
Norway's future is inseparable from that of the rest of Europe. When Europe's security is challenged, Norway's security is challenged too. A terrorist attack on Europe is more than an attack on a specific city or country. It is an attack on our common European values.
I would like to express Norway's profound solidarity with the people of Belgium and the victims of the horrific attacks that took place here in Brussels last month.
Today, Europe stands at a crossroads. Some countries are seeking closer European integration, whereas others are giving priority to national solutions. The choices the EU member states take now will shape the development of Europe for many years to come.
Time and again, Europe has demonstrated its ability to emerge stronger from a crisis. It is essential that it does so this time, too. Because a weak and divided EU will undermine Europe's security. It is in Norway's clear interest that the EU member states stand together and find common solutions.
Every single day, European cooperation is put to the test. It is challenged by migration, economic crises and the threat of terrorism. We are experiencing greater vulnerability – and a feeling that the security architecture that we have gradually built over the past few decades is more fragile than previously perceived.
Geographic distance from a crisis no longer means distance from its consequences. The latest terrorist attacks are tragic reminders of this. The role of criminal networks in the migration crisis is another example of the complexity of the threats we are facing. Such multifaceted threats need to be met with comprehensive approaches.
We must strengthen our cross-border cooperation. And we must use a wide range of tools from foreign policy, security policy, home affairs and development policy.
Nato remains the cornerstone of Norway's security policy.
The upcoming Nato summit in Warsaw in July will focus on collective defence and on what Nato must do, across the board, to adapt to a rapidly changing security situation. The Alliance cannot choose between the south and the east, between ground and sea forces, or between deterrence and détente. Of course, it also needs to maintain its focus on the changing security situation in Europe, including in the north.
Developments in the northern sea areas will have consequences for Nato, and for Europe, as a whole. In the run-up to the Warsaw summit, Norway will advocate a significant strengthening of Nato's maritime capabilities, with a strong emphasis on the North Atlantic. In our dealings with Russia, clear communication must be combined with measures by Nato to prevent dangerous incidents and increased tensions.
Norway plays a key role in this respect.
The complexity of today's security challenges calls for closer cooperation between the EU and Nato. The two institutions should agree on a set of joint objectives.
There is a need for practical measures to foster cooperation and address shortcomings in our response to the new and changing security situation. Specifically, the EU and Nato should take steps to improve cooperation on crisis management, capacity building and stabilisation efforts.
We need better mechanisms for intelligence fusion and sharing, and more regular political consultations. And we all stand to benefit from increased cooperation on maritime security, as well as on cyber security.
It is my hope that the EU and Nato will identify concrete objectives in several of these areas in time for the European Council Meeting in June and the Nato Warsaw Summit in July.
Confronted with a rapidly changing, challenging and complex security environment, strategic thinking and analysis are more important than ever before.
I commend High Representative Mogherini for her efforts to develop the new EU global strategy on foreign and security policy.
Unity and cooperation, based on common norms, are Europe's most important assets when it comes to reducing vulnerabilities and enhancing resilience. The EU global strategy should acknowledge that these assets become even more powerful when they extend beyond the geographical boundaries of the EU. This can be achieved through formal agreements and political dialogue with like-minded partners.
Before turning to the situation in the north, I would like to make a few comments regarding Europe's neighbourhoods to the south and to the east.
Many of the crises Europe is facing have their origins in a belt of fragile or failed states on its southern borders. The lack of development in the Middle East and North Africa is contributing to violent extremism and unprecedented numbers of refugees.
Clearly, a more strategic approach is needed to address issues of security, development, migration and humanitarian assistance in fragile states. We cannot let fragile states become failed states by default.
Each failed state has its own history and its own regional context. Stabilisation and improved social development require a focus on the local politics and regional geopolitics that drive polarisation and instability.
Stabilization is never a technocratic undertaking. It is primarily a political project. Military engagement is sometimes necessary, but the use of force is never the solution in itself. Counter-terrorism efforts need to be integrated into a broader political strategy.
Experience from Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya has shown that our involvement must be part of a coherent, long-term strategy for lasting stability. And we have to bear in mind that the instability in the Middle East, North Africa and beyond is, above all, a failure of governance.
That is why in pursuing stability we always need to think in terms of governance and human rights. Some say we have to choose between stability and good governance. I strongly disagree: Nation states that resort to repressive measures to maintain stability are not sustainable.
The Norwegian Government is currently developing a comprehensive strategy on fragile and failed states that links foreign policy with security, development and humanitarian policy.
In a European perspective, I would like to reiterate the need for more regional cooperation, coordination and integration in our approach to fragile and failed states.
We must not only seek to combat ISIL and the other terrorist groups that are threatening European security today. We must defeat ISIL and make sure that the terrorists that succeed ISIL do not find fertile ground for their extremist ideologies in fragile states.
Looking towards the East, we are clearly seeing a Russia that is moving away from democratic and liberal values. A Russia that is increasingly willing to use surprise tactics and take foreign policy risks. Through its actions – in Ukraine and elsewhere – Russia has contributed to a greater sense of insecurity in Europe.
It is essential that the EU, together with like-minded partners such as Norway, stands united in upholding respect for international law and human rights in its relations with Russia. At the same time, Russia is also our neighbour. And managing our bilateral relationship with Russia is a constant and important element of Norwegian foreign policy.
Over the past 25 years, Norway has gradually expanded its cooperation with Russia based on mutual interests and international law. A good example is the joint Russian-Norwegian management of the Barents Sea cod stock– which is now one of the best managed fish stocks in the world.
Good contact and dialogue between neighbouring countries is all the more important when facing challenges that require joint solutions. The large numbers of migrants and asylum seekers crossing the Norwegian-Russian border last autumn was an example of such a common challenge. Close contact at all levels and cooperation under existing agreements were key to finding a solution.
There is no contradiction between safeguarding our bilateral interests in our relationship with Russia and standing firm – with our allies and partners – on our commitment to international law and on fundamental principles of international relations.
Now, finally, I would like to turn to the north.In today's volatile world, where so many regions are affected by conflict and tension, the Arctic stands out as a remarkable exception.It remains a region of cooperation, stability, respect for international law and sustainable management of resources.
The overall goal of Norway's Arctic policy is to ensure that it stays that way. But stability in the north cannot be taken for granted. Russia's military build-up and intensification of military exercises in the Arctic show that we must remain vigilant.
For Norway, our Nato membership compensates for the lack of symmetry between Norway and our larger neighbour, Russia. It has made it easier to cooperate with Moscow. Having a robust and predictable defence does not prevent cooperation – it enables it.
The importance of international law in the Arctic cannot be overestimated. The strong commitment of the Arctic coastal states to the Law of the Sea is effectively preventing an unsustainable race for resources.
Coastal states can be confident that overlapping claims to the continental shelf in the Arctic Ocean will be settled within the established legal framework. This promotes confidence and cooperation rather than confrontation and competition.
The situation in the Arctic highlights the crucial importance of international law for peace, stability and economic growth. And it is a good example of the way in which adherence to agreed principles benefits small countries and major powers alike.
Governance in the Arctic is dependent on well-functioning political institutions to address Arctic issues. Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, the Arctic Council has proven instrumental in finding solutions to regional challenges. And it has produced ground-breaking reports on climate change in the Arctic and its far-reaching consequences for the rest of the world.
Interest in the Council is growing as the Arctic is becoming an area for cooperation between Europe, North America and Asia. I would say that in an increasingly unstable world, the Arctic Council is a contribution to modern security policy. It is a model for global governance and for promoting knowledge, stability and predictability based on respect for international law.
Further efforts to exploit the opportunities opening up in the Arctic must take into account the multiple environmental challenges resulting from increased economic activity and global warming.
The Arctic environment is vulnerable, and protecting it is a fundamental responsibility. On the one hand, global warming is posing a threat to biodiversity and livelihoods. On the other hand, the melting ice cap is opening up new commercial opportunities.
New energy and mineral resources will become accessible. And in the future, the Arctic Ocean may become an attractive shipping route from Europe to East Asia. The resources found in the oceans are indispensable for addressing the challenges our planet is facing.
Our vision is for the Arctic to become one of the world's most innovative and knowledge-based growth regions. If we succeed, the strategic importance of the Arctic for Europe's economy and security will only grow in the years to come.
The EU is already an important contributor to Arctic research and to the work of the Arctic Council, the Barents cooperation and the Northern Dimension. I strongly believe that a well-founded and coherent policy approach in the Arctic is highly relevant for EU's future global strategy.
Never before have security and prosperity in Europe depended so much on security and prosperity elsewhere.And never before has Europe been more in need of a comprehensive and strategic approach to safeguard its security interests.
The challenges we are facing can only be addressed through effective leadership, cooperation and solidarity. These are Europe's strengths, and it is in our interest to exploit them to the full.