Desire for broad cooperation in the North

“In order to maintain an effective operational defence we have to work closely together with our European neighbours,” says defence minister Grete Faremo following the extended Nordic-Baltic meeting of defence ministers held in Oslo on 9-10 November.

Representatives from eleven countries have come together in Oslo to discuss security challenges and the possibilities for cooperation in northern Europe. The Defence Ministers from Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and the United Kingdom, together with the State Secretaries from Poland and Germany, have been present.

“Many countries are experiencing cuts in their defence budgets and an increasing number realise that defence cooperation is essential if national defence structures of sufficient breadth, depth and quality are to be maintained. For a small country like Norway, close cooperation with our neighbours is extremely important,” says Grete Faremo.

Challenges in the North

Among the topics discussed at the Oslo meeting was NATO’s new strategic concept which places greater emphasis on defence of the Alliance’s core areas. The national representatives also discussed how they could cooperate more closely regarding security challenges in the High North.

“I think we should work together more closely in areas such as operational capabilities, education and training/exercising. Norway would welcome more allied units to take part in exercises set in our demanding natural environment,” says the Defence Minister.

During the meeting, Grete Faremo placed special emphasis on challenges in the High North, which, with the melting of the Arctic ice, may see a higher level of commercial activity and hence the need for an enhanced military presence, for example for search and rescue. She also stressed how important it is to build further on the good relationship with Russia.

Profitable cooperation

The Nordic countries have already established a formalised framework for defence cooperation through NORDEFCO.

“We have already achieved good results through such measures as common transport and logistics solutions for our forces in Afghanistan. In addition we have a series of projects in the fields of education, training and defence equipment collaboration,” says Grete Faremo.

The Nordic countries discussed a range of topics including how we can implement UN Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security, possible joint contributions to UN operations, and closer cooperation between the Nordic countries’ forces in Afghanistan.

“We must continue to cooperate within UN, NATO and EU operations,” says defence minister Grete Faremo in conclusion.

Source: Ministry of Defense

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