Nyhet | Dato: 15.05.2002
The Royal Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Oslo
Norway Daily No. 89/02 BT/jif
Date: 15 May 2002
Tight-lipped Mona Juul back in Tel Aviv (Aftenposten)
After two days of meetings with her Foreign Ministry superiors, a tired Mona Juul returned to Israel yesterday evening. She has been telling senior officials at the Foreign Ministry about the prize money she received from the Peres Foundation in Israel in 1999. Concluding the meetings both sides signed a protocol of dispute in accordance with section 18 of the Civil Service Act. Section 18 covers the procedures to be used if a civil servant is to be reprimanded, given the sack or dismissed without notice. It is now up to Foreign Minister Jan Petersen to make up his mind. Ambassador Mona Juul yesterday declined to comment on the substance of her meetings. "I explained my point of view, which I have previously done in writing, and that is all I can say on the matter," said Ms Juul to NRK before returning to Israel.
Stoltenberg defends Juul appointment (Dagsavisen)
Labour deputy leader Jens Stoltenberg has said he sees nothing wrong in Mona Juul being appointed Ambassador to Israel during his term as Prime Minister, despite the fact that she was a State Secretary in the government which appointed her. Ms Juul’s appointment has recently been attacked both because a number of Foreign Ministry officials claim she received the attractive ambassadorship ‘out of turn’, and because she was part of the same political leadership which appointed her. In addition, the post was not advertised internally. Yesterday the Storting’s Scrutiny and Constitutional Affairs Committee sent a number of questions to the Foreign Ministry regarding the appointment. The Committee wants to know if the appointment followed normal procedures.
Petersen: Juul’s job as safe as anyone’s (Dagsavisen)
"Ambassador Mona Juul is in exactly the same position as any other ambassador when it comes to job security," said Foreign Minister Jan Petersen to Dagsavisen. Mr Petersen is thought to have been incensed by an article in yesterday’s Aftenposten claiming he was about to ask Ms Juul to seek another post within the Foreign Ministry. The leaks will be dealt with internally within the Ministry, whose political leadership now intends to insist that employees toe the line.
Full investigation into peace process spending (Dagbladet)
The Storting’s Scrutiny and Constitutional Affairs Committee has called for a full investigation into the way Norwegian cash was spent in connection with the Middle East peace process. This gives Foreign Minister Jan Petersen a welcome opportunity to dismantle what he has called the Labour network in Norwegian foreign policy. Former Foreign Minister Thorbjørn Jagland reacted strongly to Mr Petersen’s comments about the Labour network during the Conservative Party’s annual conference, though his public statement on the issue was subdued. However, Dagbladet has learned that Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik is backing Mr Petersen’s efforts to ‘clear up’ the situation. This could mean public hearings involving the questioning of former Foreign Ministers.
Minimalist manifesto from Stoltenberg and Labour (Dagsavisen)
When Jens Stoltenberg yesterday presented Labour’s proposed manifesto ahead of the next local elections, he underlined the need for it to be as small as possible. The most important proposals in the party’s manifesto are as follows: use the Government Petroleum Fund to create a dedicated pension fund to secure the finances of the state pension scheme; introduce legislation to ensure that pensions are adjusted in line with annual wage inflation; use the Norwegian State Housing Bank for the construction of around 6,000 homes specially aimed at young people, students, the elderly and the poor; evaluate a merger between the Norwegian Industrial and Regional Development Fund (SND), the Industrial Development Corporation of Norway (SIVA) and the Norwegian Trade Council – with the new organization’s head offices to be located outside Oslo.
Identity of Orkla investor unknown (Dagens Næringsliv)
An unidentified investor has in recent weeks acquired over five per cent of the shares in Orkla, the industrial, media and investment conglomerate. The shares have been purchased through SEB Merchant Bank, a Norwegian subsidiary of Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken. Orka’s chief executive, Finn Jebsen, has so far not made any move to discover the identity of Orkla’s new shareholder. But if friends of former boss Jens P. Heyerdahl are behind the accumulation of shares, it could signal a new battle for control of the company.
Population growth expensive for local authorities (Nationen)
Changes in the population will cost local authorities at least NOK 1.2 billion next year. This is twice as much as the figure by which the Government intends to increase the sector’s non-ear marked funds. As a result a number of local councils may be forced to cut services. Local Government and Regional Affairs Minister Erna Solberg will today present the Government’s proposal for transfers to the local government sector in 2003.
1.1.1 Worth Noting
- Progress Party chairman Carl I. Hagen has launched a fierce attack on Foreign Minister Jan Petersen for his handling of the ‘peace prize affair’. "In my opinion Mr Petersen has handled this matter badly and will find his reputation tarnished as a result." (Dagavisen)
- Ambassador Mona Juul does not need to pay the prize money back to the Peres Centre or hand it over to the Foreign Ministry, regardless of the final outcome of the affair. The Foreign Ministry’s legal advisers have reached this conclusion after considering whether Mona Juul should be required to repay the NOK 450,000 she received from the Peres Centre in 1999. (Verdens Gang)
- The two sides in the on-going hotel strike have decided to take a break from negotiations until 18 May. Hotel workers have been on strike for over a month and will be stepping up their action even further on Wednesday morning. (NTB)
- The Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions (LO) has attacked the Trade and Industry Minister’s report to the Storting on state-ownership, which the unions claim only focuses on state sell-offs. The LO is demanding a new evaluation of how the state should manage its shareholdings in Norwegian businesses. (Aftenposten)
- Society could save almost NOK 500 million by giving methadone or Subutex to the country’s hard-core drug users. This is the conclusion of a project in which 50 drug users participated. Because they needed less help, stole less and spent less time in prison, the authorities saved NOK 360,000 per person. (Aftenposten)
- The Transport Ministry is considering whether to introduce a zero-limit for the use of narcotic substances when driving. Today drivers in Norway who are caught with just a small amount of narcotics in their blood get off with an on-the-spot optional fine. This means they are fined only for using narcotics, not for being under the influence of a narcotic substance when driving. (Aftenposten)
- The Labour Party led by Jens Stoltenberg have come out in favour of proposals to transform the Government Petroleum Fund into a pension fund. The idea now has the support of a parliamentary majority, but what such a pension fund would actually look like remains a matter for conjecture. (Dagens Næringsliv)
- For decades they were the subject of illegal surveillance by intelligence officers. Now the Organization Against Political Surveillance is stepping up its demands for the Government to make a public apology for the injustice and suffering they were subjected to. (Dagsavisen)
- The Government will today propose legislation to put private and local authority-run day care on an equal footing. "We must ensure that more private nurseries do not go to the wall," said Children and Family Affairs Minister Laila Dåvøy. She also strongly supports the Labour Party’s proposal to cap nursery fees at NOK 1,500 per month. (Vårt Land)
1.1.2 Today’s comment from Dagbladet
The Labour Party yesterday presented its plans for pre-school day care. The introduction of a maximum fee, the creation of more nursery places and the introduction of a legal right to day care for pre-school children formed the main planks in the party’s policy. The Government has followed up by proposing that private nurseries should receive larger state grants. These are good proposals. But the most important thing is that they should form the basis for a broad cross-party agreement in the Storting. There is hardly any other area in which politicians’ promises have been broken more often than this. To ensure voters are spared any more broken promises a parliamentary majority which supports a robust public day care policy must be mobilized. The Socialist Left Party should therefore abandon its deal with the Progress Party as quickly as possible and instead join the Government and the Labour Party in a long-term drive to improve the provision of pre-school day care.
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