Interview with Jonas Gahr Støre, Foreign Minister of Norway
Q: Minister, you said in your introductory statement, welcoming all the participants to a seminar in Oslo, that the partnerships are more important than ever for the Alliance. Could you expand on this thought?
JONAS GAHR STØRE (Foreign Minister of Norway): Well, I think that, you know, on the one hand NATO now has more partners than allies, and that even after a period of expansion of the Alliance number of members. So that in itself tells us a tremendous strength and attraction on NATO to work with NATO either as member or as partner, but also of complexity.
You know, if I look at it from Norway’s perspective we have Sweden and Finland, our closest neighbours, they are partners. There are partners as far as Australia, New Zealand; we have partners in the Middle East and we have Georgia, Ukraine, so there are very different categories. So I think discussion here will have to deal with how do we make sense of different partners when it comes to states.
Then there are international organizations—the UN, EU, African Union—organizations that NATO should learn to work with, find the good interaction, how to maximize the way we work. And then we have non-state actors—NGOs, civil society—which also may interact with NATO. So this is a complex relationship which has huge opportunities which should be thoroughly explored in the process of the Strategic Concept.
Q: Looking more broadly at this discussion, which should lead, of course, will lead to the adoption of the new Strategic Concept, what are the main themes that you consider as crucial, that should be reflected, so to speak, in the final product which should come at the Summit at the end of this year?
JONAS GAHR STØRE: Well, it’s a big question at an early stage in the process, but I think, you know, broadly speaking, I think we have experts in this group and we have able reflection capacity throughout the Alliance to focus on what is the environment in which we operate, what are the contemporary threats?
We know a lot about 2010, can we imagine what the next decade will bring? So there are new threats that we need to understand, describe and assess and then what are NATO’s capabilities both in the military sense, but this is a military-political Alliance, so also our political ability, to address them? I think that’s the overarching theme.
And then we must hope that the Strategic Concept will not be a detailed micro-management document, but will give overall directions of where we are heading on the understanding of the world in which we operate and on the capabilities and how we organize them and how we work with partners. That’s how I see it.
Q: And a very last short question. You’ve been a champion, I might say so, of drawing attention to the issue of the new security challenges, climate change, High North, and others. What particular expectations did you have in terms of the way these challenges should be reflected, again, in the Strategic Concept?
JONAS GAHR STØRE: Well, I mean, openly in the discussions here. When we attract attention to the High North it is not to cry wolf that there is a big threat looming. Our mantra is High North, low tension, which we have kept in the past. But I think the High North with climate change and the melting Arctic since signal some new challenges from energy security, transport security. We need our big neighbour Russia up in the north, how we deal with that relationship, how we deal with the affect of climate change in our own region. But also I think we will face major security challenges globally resulting from climate change – migration, forced migration, the failing states, and so on.
So this was partly there in the discussion 10, 15 years ago. It is massively here now and we have to see it reflected.