Historisk arkiv

Norway Daily No. 88/02

Historisk arkiv

Publisert under: Regjeringen Bondevik II

Utgiver: Utenriksdepartementet

The Royal Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Oslo
Press Division

Norway Daily No. 88/02

Date: 13 May 2002

LO branded an enemy of Israel (Aftenposten)

A delegation from the Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions (LO) was yesterday refused entry into Israel. The reason given was that they belonged to a hostile organization. The LO representatives were forced to wait for four hours at Ben Gurion Airport before they were allowed through the security area. "We consider this to have been a hostile act," said deputy leader Finn Erik Thoresen. The LO has been openly critical of Israel, not least in connection with the country’s military offensive on the West Bank, and Mr Thoresen believes this is the reason for the blacklisting.

Norway donated millions to Peres Centre after peace prize award (Dagsavisen/Saturday)

A fortnight after Mona Juul and her husband Terje Rød-Larsen had received their peace prizes, the Peres Centre was promised almost NOK 4 million by the Norwegian Foreign Ministry. The donation, NOK 3,750,000, is by far the largest single amount which the Norwegian authorities have ever granted to the Peres Centre. The money was promised despite an internal Foreign Ministry memo which warned about the uncritical nature of the grants made to the Centre, and despite the fact that the Foreign Ministry had not received an auditor’s report or any other satisfactory reports about what the Norwegian money was being spent on.

Lønning believes Mona Juul will get the sack (Dagbladet/Saturday)

Mona Juul’s tenure as Norway’s Ambassador to Israel could soon be over, according to Inge Lønning, the Conservative Party’s foreign policy spokesman. Mr Lønning has also confirmed that he has discussed Ms Juul’s role with Foreign Minister Jan Petersen. "As I see it, in the long term we would not be best served to have an ambassador who is so controversial," said Mr Lønning.

Mona Juul summoned home to explain herself (Verdens Gang/Sunday)

The Foreign Ministry has decided it wants Norway’s Ambassador to Israel, Mona Juul, to return to Oslo to answer a growing list of questions regarding the peace prize worth NOK 450,000 which she received from the Peres Centre. "The need to have a serious chat with her has grown over the past few days," confirmed a Foreign Ministry source. Behind the move is, among other things, VG’s revelations that Mona Juul was central in handling a series of requests for money from the Peres Centre in 1997 and 1998, before she and her husband Terje Rød-Larsen received a prize from the Centre in January 1999.

Labour State Secretary blocked cash to Peres Centre (Verdens Gang/Saturday)

Jan Egeland, former State Secretary at the Foreign Ministry and politically responsible for the so-called Oslo channel, through which Israeli and Palestinian negotiators arrived at the Oslo Accord, was for a long time extremely sceptical about giving Norwegian money to the Peres Centre. Mr Egeland says that he himself could not have accepted a peace prize from the Centre as long as he was working for the Foreign Ministry. Today he is President of the Norwegian Red Cross. In 1997 he approved a USD 100,000 grant to the Shimon Peres Peace Centre. He also indicated that more money, USD 150,000, could be forthcoming the year after, if the project was successful. "We gave them USD 100,000 when they finally presented a proper, well-documented application, and at the same time fulfilled our requirements regarding the way they were organized. In the earliest phase their organization was far too loose. Their programmes were unclear and they did not send in proper applications. To be quite honest they did not send in applications at all at the start. The Centre’s leadership was made up of top diplomats who were not used to aid projects, even if they were impressive in the peace process," said Mr Egeland.

Norway bought Russian uranium (Dagsavisen/Saturday)

The Institute for Energy Technology (IFE) has for the first time admitted where it has been buying its radioactive uranium from. It comes from Russia. But the people responsible for Norway’s two nuclear reactors do not know exactly where in Russia the uranium is brought from. "Dealing with the Russian nuclear industry in this way is extremely worrying," said Frederic Hauge, head of the environmental foundation, Bellona. The uranium comes from a mine in Siberia which, according to Bellona, is responsible for substantial radioactive pollution. Atle Valseth, head of security at the IFE, has confirmed that they do not have an overview of where in Russia the uranium comes from. But he says the issue is completely irrelevant. "We imported 500 kg uranium from Russia in 1999. I do not see any problems in that," said Mr Valseth.

Hope for Statkraft (Dagens Næringsliv/Saturday)

Statkraft, the state-owned electricity utility, may avoid having to pay out more in dividends that the Government intends. The Labour Party and the Progress Party are not prepared to accept without question the Government’s proposal to squeeze another billion kroner in dividends out of the company. During last autumn’s national budget negotiations for 2002, the Storting decided that the state-owned utility should pay almost NOK 2.7 billion in dividends. In the Government’s proposed revised national budget, it now wants Statkraft to pay out another NOK 950 million in dividends.

Secret ownership to be permitted (Klassekampen/Saturday)

A parliamentary majority is flying in the face of warnings from the National Authority for Investigation and Prosecution of Economic and Environmental Crime, the Banking, Insurance and Securities Commission, the Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions (LO) and the Press Association and has decided to allow less openness concerning ownership in the Norwegian financial markets. Together with the Progress Party, the governing coalition has rejected the public’s right of access to the Registers of Securities. This will lead to a more closed financial market where investors can hide behind account numbers in any bank and the public and press will have less access to information regarding the market.

Worth Noting

  • Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit were severely sunburned during an interview with a German television station on Wednesday. A decision will be made today as to whether the Crown Princess will be able to go ahead with the couple’s planned official visit to Germany. (Aftenposten/Sunday)
  • Crown Princess Mette-Marit was so severely sunburned that she risks not being able to greet the children’s parade from the Palace balcony on 17 May, Norway’s national day. The Crown Princess yesterday withdrew from the planned official visit to Germany due to her injuries. (Dagsavisen)
  • For the first time since the second world war Norwegian pilots will engage in military action in wartime. In all probability Norwegian F-16 fighter planes will be deployed in Afghanistan this autumn. The objective is to participate in the battle against the remnants of the al-Qaida and Taliban forces. Two, four or six Norwegian fighters could see action. (Dagbladet/Saturday)
  • In the course of three years Storebrand has lost NOK 1.3 billion in its attempts to create a banking corporation. Finansbanken and Storebrand Bank have proved to be hugely costly for the insurance group. (Dagens Næringsliv)
  • The Norwegian College of Veterinary Medicine (NVH) and the Agricultural University of Norway (NLH) have received a record number of applications ahead of this autumn’s uptake. The NVH has received 65 per cent more applications than last year, while several courses at the NLH have seen the number of applications rise by over 50 per cent. (Nationen/Saturday)
  • The number of people attending church services has dropped by over 400,000 in the past four years. This represents a fall of 5.7 per cent. (Vårt Land/Saturday)
  • Drug abuse is as common as alcohol abuse among Norwegian drivers. In the course of the past ten years the number of people caught driving under the influence of substances other than alcohol has more than doubled. (Aftenposten/Saturday)a

Today’s comment from Aftenposten

The Conservative Party’s Inge Lønning is not only Vice President of the Storting, he is also deputy chairman of the Storting’s Foreign Affairs Committee. This is a key position when the Foreign Minister is Conservative Party chairman Jan Petersen. It therefore comes as something of a surprise that Mr Lønning should engage in personnel policy predictions and announce his belief that Mona Juul’s tenure as Norway’s Ambassador to Israel will soon be over. If we assume that Foreign Minister Petersen and his foreign policy spokesman in the Storting do actually talk to each other, it is difficult to see how this could be closer to the public dismissal of an ambassador. We have previously described Mr Petersen’s handling of the Juul affair as punctilious. But if Jan Petersen has now decided to use Inge Lønning as a vehicle through which to reveal his true feelings on the matter, it is an unforgivably bad piece of personnel management which the Foreign Minister is in the process of institutionalizing. Is it too much to ask that Mr Petersen should tell us how we are supposed to interpret Mr Lønning’s pronouncements?

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