Norwegian Prime Minister Says No to NATO Bases
05:22 GMT 25.03.2022 (Updated: 05:40 GMT 25.03.2022)
In accordance with a landmark 1949 declaration, which Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre has cited regarding NATO bases, Norway refrains from hosting foreign military forces on its territory during peacetime.
As NATO has decided to respond to the conflict in Ukraine with a significant build-up of forces in the East, Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre said that increased Allied presence in Norway is not an option.
In response to Russia's special military operation to "demilitarise and de-Nazify" Ukraine, which the West keeps portraying as “invasion”, NATO doubled its battlegroups on the alliance's eastern flank. In addition to existing battlegroups in the Baltic States and Poland, multinational NATO forces will be stationed in Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia. According to Støre, though, Norway will not reconsider its time-tested policy on military bases on the country's territory.
“The combination of history and geography can lead to different needs when it comes to security”, Støre said in a statement. “We have managed to keep low tensions in the north in these times. It is an experience we want to safeguard. We have not signalled a need or desire to change that”.
Norway's landmark declaration on military bases from 1949 stipulates that the Nordic country shall never receive bases for foreign military forces on its territory in peacetime.
In addition, Norway claims to have refrained from holding Allied exercises near the Russian border.
“I believe that the principles we have had for Allied exercises have served Norway, our neighbourhood, and NATO well,” Støre said.
This spring, the Norwegian parliament will decide on a new defence agreement with the United States. The agreement was entered into by the previous Solberg government in the spring of 2021, but will be presented for approval this spring. It may give the Americans the right to set up infrastructure at several Norwegian military bases, including Rygge, Sola, Evenes and Ramsund. Russia reacted strongly to the agreement, arguing it constituted a militarisation of Norway.
Previously, Norway received forces from the US Marine Corps on a rotary basis. The Værnes Air Station also serves as a storage base for the US Armed Forces as part of the Marine Corps Prepositioning Program-Norway. Despite criticism from the opposition parties, the government has stated that the agreement is not in conflict with Norwegian policy on military bases.
Overall, Norwegian-Russian relations, which date back hundreds of years to the Viking Age, have over the recent decade years become increasingly fraught due to reciprocal military build-ups in the north, numerous military jet interceptions, spying accusations, and an overall harsher rhetoric that puts a strain on decades-long partnership.