Speech/statement | Date: 10/11/2021 | Ministry of Foreign Affairs
By State Secretary Eivind Vad Petersson (Oslo, 10 November)
State Secretary Eivind Vad Petersson's intervention at the Norwegian Russian Chamber of Commerce' networking meeting in Oslo.
- Ladies and Gentlemen, it is a great pleasure to meet with you as representatives of the Norwegian-Russian business community.
- And thank you, Hans-Olav, for the opportunity talk about the Government’s policy on Russia.
- The relationship with Russia is one of the most important in Norwegian foreign policy. We are neighbours, trading partners and have common interests in the Arctic. But we also disagree on key issues.
- There is broad consensus on Norway’s Russia policy. We aim to be a predictable, firm, and constructive neighbour.
- Norway aims to keep the Arctic as a region of peace, stability, and international cooperation.
- Nato remains the cornerstone of Norway's defence and security policy, as it has since 1949. It promotes predictability and stability in the region.
- The main priority for this Government is to promote Norwegian interests in the best possible manner. At the same time, we need to realise that our bilateral relationship does not exist in a vacuum.
- Negative developments in Russia’s relationship with the West have significant consequences for our foreign policy.
- We are aligned with allies and partners in our response to unacceptable Russian actions. This includes full alignment with the EU’s restrictive measures.
- We remain deeply concerned about conditions for civil society, democracy, and human rights in Russia. This also complicates people-to-people cooperation between our two countries.
- These factors limit the potential of cooperation.
- However – we believe that there is significant potential to expand the cooperation and dialogue with Russia.
- We want to expand dialogue and cooperation with Russia. Regular contact is vital for solving specific issues and discussing disagreements.
- We will actively look for areas where we have common interests with Russia.
- We have a solid and time-tested foundation to build on.
- We cooperate well with Russia in a range of fields – not least in the Arctic. This includes fisheries management, the environment, search and rescue and nuclear safety.
- We would like to see increased cooperation with Russia on climate. Protection and sustainable exploitation of boreal coniferous forests should be a priority and an area for cooperation with Russia and other countries with such forests.
- Local and regional cooperation is a vital part of our Russia policy. Norway and Russia enjoy a very good and constructive cooperation in the Arctic Council and the Barents Euro-Arctic Council.
- Norway supports Russia’s chairmanship of the Arctic Council, where many of our interests overlap. Norway will take over the chairmanship from Russia in 2023.
- Our aim is to have a long-term perspective on the work we do together in the Arctic Council.
- We appreciate Russia’s support of our recent chairmanship of the Barents Euro-Arctic Council. The Barents cooperation is a unique platform for cooperation on the national, regional, and local levels.
- We were able to uphold contact, despite the sad fact that the pandemic has greatly affected the possibilities for physical cooperation and contact across the border. Despite our best efforts, digital connections can never fully replace the value of physical meetings.
- I hope that the situation will improve and allow for more regular physical dialogue with Russia.
- Trade and investments are an important part of the cooperation between Norway and Russia.
- Several Norwegian companies have substantial investments in Russia.
- Before the pandemic we were pleased to see a positive development in the bilateral trade after several years of decrease.
- Nevertheless, trade is still unbalanced. Imports from Russia to Norway dominate the picture.
- Trade in goods between Norway and Russia is still limited and consists mainly of raw materials.
- We would very much like to see a diversification.
- When we talk about Russia, it is easy to get caught in discussions about all the challenges. On the other hand, the picture is not all that bleak.
- You have first-hand experience of the many opportunities that exist in Russia.
- I am pleased to learn that there are positive developments in the maritime sector on modernising the Russian fisheries fleet. I hope that the Russian Maritime Cluster, that Mr. Methi will talk about later today, succeeds in promoting business cooperation.
- I have also learned about positive steps in the field of aquaculture cooperation.
- There is no doubt about there being other areas of potential business cooperation.
- I understand doing business in Russia can be challenging. I have great respect and admiration for the work you are doing.
- The government wants to support business cooperation with Russia.
- We will continue to stress that a market must offer stable and predictable framework conditions to attract foreign investments. This is a responsibility for each and every government.
- We will continue to push for better framework conditions and further dialogue.
- The Norwegian-Russian Intergovernmental Economic Commission and its working groups are important and well-established arenas for raising such issues.
- We look forward to next session of the Economic Commission, which was postponed due to the pandemic. We hope that the situation soon will allow for the next meeting to be held.
- The NRCC has a unique competence on business in Russia. The chamber plays an important role by maintaining and improving the business cooperation between Russia and Norway.
- We also value the constructive contributions that the Chamber provides to the Norwegian-Russian Economic commission.
- We are proud supporters and friends of the chamber. We hope that our agreement on support to the chamber for 2021-2023 will provide a boost to the cooperation with Russia.
- The agreement includes support for a presence in Kirkenes by a regional director.
- I strongly believe in the value of networking. I would like to encourage all of you to make use of this meeting to share each other’s experiences and vast knowledge on Norwegian-Russian business cooperation.
- I wish you all a fruitful networking meeting and good discussion.