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Norwegian Diplomat Slams NATO Boss Stoltenberg, Urges Him to Ease Russia Tensions

© AFP 2023 / THIERRY CHARLIERNATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg delivers a press conference after a NATO defence ministers' meeting at the NATO headquarters in Brussels on October 27, 2016
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg delivers a press conference after a NATO defence ministers' meeting at the NATO headquarters in Brussels on October 27, 2016 - Sputnik International, 1920, 30.12.2021
According to former NATO Ambassador Kai Eide, the alliance must defuse the tensions by refraining from unnecessarily harsh language and reassuring Russia, which has its legitimate interests.
As relations between NATO and Russia have arguably reached a new low amid reciprocal buildups and the alliance's perennial expansion that Moscow seeks to halt, former NATO Ambassador and top Norwegian diplomat Kai Eide has reprimanded the bloc's Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.
According to Eide, the situation between NATO and Russia is dangerous and must be handled with care. The retired diplomat emphasised that while the language has been unnecessarily harsh from both sides, Moscow has a "traditional fear" of being surrounded by NATO. Therefore, the rhetoric must be toned down, he argued.

"We must reassure the Russians. Jens must change course and use the time he has left in NATO to calm the conflict. Words create suspicion, they mean something. Both sides have legitimate interests, and then we must find solutions that reflect both sides", Eide told TV2.

Eide believes the situation has become the most dangerous since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. He feels that NATO must take into account that Russia also has legitimate interests, in the same way that NATO and Ukraine have.

"There is no clear solution, it must be found, discussed, and it becomes difficult because both parties have gone too far. Now you have to sit down and negotiate solutions for all parties", Eide told TV2.
Eide confronted Stoltenberg's claim that the time of great powers having their own spheres of interest is over.

"When Stoltenberg says that there are no longer spheres of interest, this is wrong. Of course there are. And all major powers operate at all times with [a] sphere of interest policy. The US does, China does, Russia does. Let's accept it and not pretend that we are in a world where this is not the case", Eide told TV2.

While calling Russia's "annexation" of Crimea in 2014, which is the go-to description of the peninsula's reunification with Moscow following an overwhelming referendum in favour, "unacceptable", Eide also emphasised that Ukraine's membership in NATO, which Russia called a red line, would lead to a sharp escalation of tensions throughout Europe, even touching Norway. Therefore, he urged Stoltenberg to change his style.
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"The Norwegian authorities must be more balanced than what we see today. We must build a bridge of safety and security. It is important to refrain from rhetoric that inflames the situation and makes it more dangerous than it needs to be", the retired diplomat concluded.
Eide has been a career diplomat and served as Norway's ambassador to NATO for four years starting from 2002. At that time, he participated in several meetings of the NATO-Russia Council. A close friend of Jens Stoltenberg's father, Thorvald Stoltenberg, who, among other things, was Norway's foreign minister, Eide shifted alignment from Conservative to Labour, becoming party mates with the Stoltenbergs.
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