US embassy cable - 06OSLO132

NORWAY DETERMINED - NO CHANGE OF COURSE IN AFGHANISTAN

Identifier: 06OSLO132
Wikileaks: View 06OSLO132 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Oslo
Created: 2006-02-08 16:10:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PREL MARR KDEM NO NATO
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

C O N F I D E N T I A L  OSLO 000132 
 
SIPDIS 
 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/08/2016 
TAGS: PREL, MARR, KDEM, NO, NATO 
SUBJECT: NORWAY DETERMINED - NO CHANGE OF COURSE IN 
AFGHANISTAN 
 
REF: STATE 20453 
 
Classified By: P/E Counselor Mike Hammer, Reason 1.4 (b) and (d) 
 
1.  (C) Summary.  Opposition parties in Parliament rallied 
behind Prime Minister Stoltenberg on February 8 when he 
announced "we will not give way to pressure," reinforcing the 
message that Norway remains committed in Afghanistan, despite 
calls from some left-wing Parliamentarians for Norway to 
withdraw.  Foreign Minister Stoere assured Parliament that 
Norway intends to stay the course in its international 
engagement.  However, as the events pile up -- including the 
February 7 attack on the Norwegian Embassy in Tehran, and the 
February 8 attack on an international observer station in 
Hebron that included 21 Norwegians -- many are beginning to 
question if Norway's international image will ever be the 
same and if they'll be able to maintain their treasured role 
as peace-maker extraordinaire.  End Summary. 
 
2.  (U) In a highly unusual move, the normal Prime Minister's 
question time in Parliament was canceled on February 8 in 
order to allow PM Jens Stoltenberg to speak about the 
situation at the Norwegian Embassies in Damascus, Tehran and 
elsewhere and the attack on the Norwegian-led Provincial 
Reconstruction Team (PRT) in Meymana, Afghanistan. 
Stoltenberg,s main messages were clear: 
 
- violence against those who are innocent is unacceptable, 
and reaction to the cartoons provides no justification for 
violence; 
- Norway has a long-term view of international support for 
Afghanistan and will continue its military contributions in 
Afghanistan; 
- Syria failed in its responsibilities to protect the 
Norwegian mission and a formal protest was delivered to Syria 
on February 8; 
- on media freedom, it is up to the media, not governments, 
to decide what is acceptable to publish; 
- the police security service has not changed its view that 
the security threat in Norway remains moderate, and there are 
no concrete threats against Norway or foreign interests in 
Norway, but that police awareness has been increased; 
- Norwegian Muslims leaders deserve credit for distancing 
themselves from the acts of violence; 
- the violent actions of a few do not reflect the meaning of 
all Muslims, but a small minority; 
- this is not a war of religions, but a war of 
totalitarianism versus democracy; and 
- those who face the greatest challenges are the majorities 
in Muslim countries who stand against such violence ) 
freedom of speech is not just the privilege of the West, and 
the majority of Muslims who reject violence deserve our 
support. 
 
3.  (U) The Prime Minister's comments were welcomed in turn 
by all party groups in Parliament, both those in government 
and opposition.  When faced with a crisis, Norwegians return 
to consensus as their default mode.  The only critical voices 
came from a handful of Socialist Left (SV) backbenchers who 
argued that Norway should pull completely out of Afghanistan. 
 The Government quickly countered these left-wingers.  "It is 
precisely when difficult situations arise that it is 
important for us to stand firm on the task we have 
undertaken," Stoltenberg said. 
 
4.  (U) Foreign Minister Stoere followed Stoltenberg with a 
previously scheduled New Year's update on Norway's foreign 
policy.  In a one hour tour d'horizon, Stoere described the 
importance of the "High North" specifically citing the energy 
potential of the Barents and the importance of developing 
resources both on the Norwegian and Russian side of the 
border, close cooperation with the EU without plans to seek 
membership, contribution to a successful DOHA round, a 
peaceful solution in Darfur and continuing work with the 
Sudan peace agreement, support for UN reform, strengthening 
human rights around the globe, Norway's desire for a Middle 
East peace agreement following the Road Map, concerns about 
Iran and the broad international support for the IAEA 
reporting of Iran to the UN security Council.  Stoere's 
comments can be found at http://odin.dep.no/ud/engelsk. 
 
5.  (U) The main message that Stoere wanted to convey was 
that events related to the Mohammed cartoons would not deter 
Norway from pursuing its active foreign policy line. 
According to Stoere, Norway has three main foreign policy 
tracks; strengthening international law, maintaining close 
alliances, and promoting peace, reconciliation and 
development.  Stoere specifically emphasized that Norwegian 
foreign policy is rooted in NATO, close ties to the Nordic 
countries and EU and "close friendship and cooperation with 
 
 
the USA." 
 
6.  (C) Comment.  Norway appreciates our offers of support 
(per reftel).  The Norwegians are clearly hoping that the 
worst of the Mohammed cartoon-related attacks against 
Norwegian facilities abroad is over.  We were told 
unofficially that the Foreign Ministry disbanded on February 
8 its crisis response team set up in the wake of the Damascus 
attack.  (Note.  It can be quickly reconstituted if needed 
and there was considerable tension as demonstrators damaged 
their Embassy in Tehran.  The FM told us he twice called his 
Iranian counterpart regarding protection of their mission. 
End note.)  The united political support behind the 
government has strengthened its hand in asserting that Norway 
will stay the course in Afghanistan.  The left-wing voices 
that piped up against Norway's continuing military 
contribution in Afghanistan were quickly put down.  In fact, 
the MFA told us that the need to call in air support in 
Meymana strengthened the Government's case for why it was 
important to deploy F-16s. 
 
7.  (C) Comment continued.  Despite FM Stoere's assurances 
about the continuity of Norway's international efforts, the 
question many Norwegians are asking is whether the world's 
image of Norway has changed.  As one Foreign Ministry 
official told us on February 8, "the repercussions of 
Norway's association with the Mohammed cartoons will last for 
a long time."   Another senior official expressed concern 
that Norway's ability to act as a mediator and peace-maker 
will clearly suffer. 
Visit Oslo's Classified website: 
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/eur/oslo/index.cf m 
 
WHITNEY 
 
 
NNNN 

Latest source of this page is cablebrowser-2, released 2011-10-04