Committee Chairman David McAllister welcomed Søreide’s perspectives challenges related to Russia, the Arctic, the Western Balkans and Europe’s neigbouring areas.
Arctic sustainability and stability
The Arctic is an issue that concerns all of Europe. The Foreign Minister noted the strong interest from the European Parliament towards the Arctic.
“A lot of people tend to think about the Arctic as just some icy place. But this is where people live”, Søreide said.
Søreide welcomed more cooperation with the EU in the North, both on Arctic climate, research and in relation to the shared border with Russia on land and at sea. The Arctic Council is the key international body for this cooperation.
“European challenges are also Norwegian”
Members of the European Parliament raised questions about the increasing military activity from the Russian side.
For the Norwegians, a shared border with Russia makes cross-border people-to-people contact an important part of life in the north.
“As neighbors we pursue bilateral cooperation with Russia on issues of mutual interest. At the same time, we must stand up for our values", said Søreide and pointed to authoritarian trend in Russia in regard to human rights.
She also made a point about Russia’s violations of international law in Ukraine:
“We stand united with our allies and partners. Norway’s restrictive measures are fully aligned with those of the EU”, said Søreide.
Closer cooperation on defense policy
As the European Union is pursuing structural integration for its member states’ armed forces (PESCO), Minister Søreide underlined the need for close consultations with likeminded countries.
“We welcome that the EU want to increase its capacity to deal with security challenges. This will strengthen European, and by extension Norwegian, security”, Søreide said, adding:
“We would also like to find ways of being part of individual projects in PESCO. But we are also very mindful of the fact that we need to find a good divisional labor between NATO and the EU. We should not duplicate our structures”