The father of cooperation in the Barents region: I am Proud of our peaceful neighborhood

If someone can be called an eternal optimist, so it’s Thorvald Stoltenberg (Thorvald Stoltenberg), and he promises that optimism will live as long as he did. While both 86 years old.

“Father of the Barents cooperation” — to this fatherhood, he refers with pride and joy. Besides, he is the father of Secretary General of NATO, and proud of it no less.

“We can be proud of”

— But what we really can be proud of, — says the veteran of the Norwegian policy, which will soon be 86 years old, so the fact that we were able to carry out such an elaborate foreign policy vis-a-vis with our great neighbor that we had no military conflict with tsarist Russia nor the Soviet Union nor Putin’s Russia. And we’ve all got to praise — of course, I mean Russian — says the former foreign Minister, the defense Minister, the special representative participated in the regulation in the Balkans and the high Commissioner for refugees.

High North News meets with Thorwald because he asks to be called just Torvald, he is Thorsens gate in Oslo, the apartment, which has a view right up to Beijing (on clear days), if you believe the introduction to his recent book, “Breakfast with Thorwald”.

— I’m old enough to remember how we were afraid of the Russians when they crossed border and liberated Finnmark in 1945. We all — at least, here in the South of Norway, in Oslo, was worried: if they withdraw their troops, and the Russians did it.

Small country need a lot of policy

This proves, he says that our foreign policy was successful. I was for many years say that the smaller the country, the more foreign policy it needs. This means, in other words, to the smallest detail thought out foreign policy, to each of the subordinate clause.

HNN: In his new book, you will beat a lot of attention “to the rhetoric of the cold war”, or rather, how to avoid it. A few days ago, the Russian Embassy sent a Statement to the press in which it’s pretty strong language criticizing the Norwegian policy. In the comments of Erna, Solberg (Erna Solberg), in particular, it was mentioned that this “alternate reality Russian that we heard repeatedly”.

What do You think, was it right from the Prime Minister to react this way?

One of the reasons why I pretty well live, is that I decided not to give estimates of how others solve problems.

But it’s the Norwegian government?..

Yes, Yes, others. But I care, and I’m sure the Prime Minister knows that many Norwegians think that what we say in Norway, is not interested in anyone outside of approximately Sinsenkrysset (Sinsenkrysset place almost in the centre of Oslo, approx.ed.). But think so wrong. It is read and evaluated.

And of course, our superpower neighbor Russia. That’s why I say on foreign policy: we are a small country, we need a lot foreign policy.

“No expansion to the East”

— The US, Russia and European powers victorious in world war II after the war virtually divided the world between them into different “spheres of influence”. And in history there is nothing that would give grounds to speak about Russian aggression, with the exception of what was then designated as the Soviet sphere of influence. As it turns out, is that we, the West, now old break the unity by expansion to the East?

— No, no expansion to the East does not exist.

But the Russians certainly perceive it that way.

— Yes, but then I’d have to go on the offensive and say that if they and we think about democracy and treat her with respect, democratic countries such as the Baltic countries, Poland, Hungary — they do not want to be included in the Russian sphere of influence that Moscow has decided, and they obeyed.

“We should not change ourselves”

They are democracies, they want the reliability and the security that arise from its membership in NATO. And what would the world be if we said, Yes, we know they want to join, but we are on that risk do not want to take? So will not go.

I actively encourage constructive and calm against Russia, but we must not go so far as to not deny what we stand.

Here Torvald becomes a strong and serious. Democracy can not play, no matter what form this democracy. Because democracy around the world does not necessarily have to be like our, Western.

— But You do not believe in sanctions, in that they operate?

Sanctions do not produce the desired results

— When I was foreign Minister, I often in different situations voted in favor of sanctions. But thanks to this I realized that we have no other means of action than sanctions: if the choice is between inaction and use of military force.

The latter is possible, I hope that will be excluded in the future. But I don’t believe that sanctions lead to the results they want. In any case, I do not ever see. They even South Africa has not acted. Sanctions did not make sense because of two things: first, because the Japanese court wanted to spit on sanctions and earned enormous amounts of money, transporting oil and goods back and forth.

Secondly, due to the fact that the banks had imposed sanctions when investment in South Africa was seen as impractical. Only then things really began to work, said Thorvald Stoltenberg.

However, it is quite clear that there are situations in which “the world needs to do something”, and then the sanctions that is available. Examples of what might work or help a military intervention, there is, he says, and quotes former U.S. Secretary of state Colin Powell: “do Not think that it is possible to change the mode from the height of 30 thousand feet”.

After the fall of the iron curtain, the collapse of the Soviet Union and the entry of Western capitalism into Eastern Europe, many in the West thought that Russian and other East will be the same as we are, if we only tell them that what they need to do and how they should think.

As you know, this has not happened.

But this, says Torvald, was a mistake of capitalism. We — I say “we” I mean the West — thought that the best thing for the former Warsaw Pact countries will be more rapid introduction of capitalism.

I am in many of these countries have been in Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, etc., we were very surprised when in the first elections after the fall of the Warsaw Pact all the old Communists just broom swept control of the state. But in the second election they returned, however, under different party names, but it was the same guys. Why?

“We want to have controlled democracy”

In short, one “man on the street” to answer me this question:

“We wanted freedom and democracy. But the differences in society become more of an order became less, and the bad — we lost a job. And if THIS is freedom, then we need a more adjustable freedom, or controlled democracy Guided democracy”.

And it is clear that we made a mistake. The error is not in the sense that we become aggressive towards Russia, but we wanted to be aggressive on behalf of capitalism.

If you look at all of these different communiqués adopted and sent to international meetings at that time, you will notice that they almost always ended with the words about the need to do so-and-so to “preserve and develop the free market”, freedom in everything, including and market.

Thorvald shakes his head and looks into the large living room window on Beijing? And then continues:

— I think that today everybody wants to have a completely free market, freedom has a different degree. So here we were mistaken, but we must recognize that in most countries at that time had been at the helm of the capitalist party, or the conservative party.

USA — not quite the role model

Thatcher and Reagan are praised too much for what they did, but something made by them led to the deterioration of relations between East and West. And with all due respect to the United States, they are not an example to follow, if we are talking about the restoration of a collapsed country.

If You are talking about the US, You also said that we should give Donald Trump the opportunity to show what he’s capable of.

— Yes, I said it and I wrote, and I also often said, we hope and believe that reality will manifest itself, and trump will gradually begin to navigate.

— If a little exaggerated, probably, we can say that in Moscow sits cynical nationalist strategist and Washington — violent and no less nationalistic clown. Scary?

Well, I must say that I was not so afraid because I still believe that reason will prevail. And don’t forget that if someone gradually learns what it really means to have nuclear weapons, it is the top leaders of the two superpowers, Russia and the United States.

In addition, they know that nuclear war will not win ONE. There will be only losers.

So Thorwald is still an optimist. And we’re back to what actually started the relations with Russia to the North, the people’s diplomacy that existed almost always. He acknowledges his paternity in regard to the cooperation in the Barents region, but strongly argues that the “conception” and the idea he is responsible not alone. Rather the opposite:

Of course, we did not start with a clean slate. I said that fatherhood will take on, but I came in a very productive environment. Here in Oslo, all looked simple, but in fact, it does not mean that I come from Oslo, while in Finnmark one of anything like it before, not heard, because the North was the environment that was around this very interested.

Critical personal relationships and trust

Why I confess to the father? Because I spoke with his Russian counterpart, Andrei V. Kozyrev, and he spoke with Boris Yeltsin, and during the day it became clear that they are committed to cooperation in the Barents region.

And then another thing, and it is much more important than many people think. The fact that many people think that contacts between the leaders are just social events with no real content, but I dare say that what Jens (Stoltenberg) and Jonas (Gahr støre) meeting regularly with Putin/Medvedev and Lavrov (Minister of foreign Affairs of Russia) during meetings at the level of Ministers in the Barents Council, was important for the final solution of the question of delimitation in the Barents sea.

I think a very significant role played by the fact that they have established certain relationships and forms of communication during these meetings.

Not to say that we played a decisive role, but considerable. And it only speaks about how such things are important. For 40 years we have been negotiating mainly on the level of Deputy Ministers and officials, but we signed the contract after each other to trust and began to meet more often at the highest level

It is gratifying to see such interest

But first I just incredibly pleased that we managed to move so the plans themselves, how people took the idea of such cooperation. I was also very pleased that the Russian so quickly agreed, and the interest of countries such as Finland, Sweden and Denmark reacted to the emergence of cooperation.

“Everything was fine”

— Are you satisfied with the heritage of the Barents cooperation ordered in the future?

— All exceeded my expectations. The fact that everything depended on two things: first, the cold war ended, and second, the superpowers are in contact directly. As Minister of foreign Affairs, I felt that I had to use the current unprecedented situation in which we find ourselves, when “nothing was impossible” what we tried to do for 70 years, starting in tsarist times.

And I would like to commend all who contributed to the fact that the cooperation found the actual content, I didn’t do it.

However, it should be noted that not everything was positive. I hoped and believed that we will move further in terms of international economic policy and industrial cooperation.

But again: if life taught me anything, it’s this: be patient and do not despair.

Everything was perfect.


IN the margin: “Jens received a good education”

If there is something that bothers me, than I am concerned about is the fact that today’s world leaders have not experienced a world war. Remember only old crocks like me.

After world war II was the slogan “Never again”, we built the world, thinking about how to prevent a new war. When I’m playing with reports, I say that we were afraid of a new war between Germany and France, traditional enemies, and then the whole audience starts to laugh, says Thorvald Stoltenberg.

Internationalist Torvald becomes so contemptuous as possible for this educated man when he says: Now it became fashionable to be against the EU. But the European integration started with cooperation between France and Germany, far-sighted leaders said that we should make people dependent on each other — was created the European coal and steel Union — the prelude of the EU.

Since then, in Europe, the world. Now talking only about the economy and trade agreements, nobody mentions that the main reason for the creation of the EU was to prevent war.

So, Yes, I was that Nobel peace prize was awarded to the EU.

Among world leaders, which You mention, and Jens Stoltenberg. For it is also characterized by the absence of knowledge of which You speak, talking about modern politics that bother You?

— Well, what can I say… I Think I am very trust received the education that he was still at home got a solid portion of the knowledge that war is hell for everyone. As I understand it, the Russian side stated that, in their opinion, his choice of NATO Secretary General was quite correct. So, no, I think he is too smart and too well-mannered to not understand what war is.