Norway to remain peaceful, stable country, open to Russians — diplomat

MOSCOW, August 29 (Itar-Tass) —— Norway hopes to remain a peaceful and stable country where Russian people would be welcome, Norwegian Minister Counsellor in Russia Bard Ivar Svendsen said.

Until July 22, when more than 70 people were killed in a terrorist act, Norway was considered one of the most stable countries not only in Europe but also in the world, Svendsen said at a press conference on Monday, August 29.

He expressed hope that everything would remain as before despite this barbaric act.

As before Russians can get a Schengen visa in the Norwegian consulate without hindrance as there are no entry restrictions, the diplomat said.

According to Svendsen, the flow of tourists from Russia grows by about 20 percent annually even despite the crisis of 2008.

Last year, the consular section issued more than 35,000 visas in Moscow, about 25,000 in Murmansk and as many in St. Petersburg.

“Norway remains open to Russian tourists,” he said.

Russian-Norwegian relations have been developing quite actively lately and been characterised by intensive political dialogue.

Interaction in the North occupies a traditionally important place in relations between the two countries. In December 2006, the Norwegian government adopted a strategy in respect of the northern regions, which calls for developing full-scale cooperation with Russia on a wide array of issues ranging from energy, transport infrastructure and fishing to environmental protection, education, culture, and contacts between people.

Agreements between the governments of Russia and Norway on the simplification of visa procedures entered into force in December 2008.

The agreement on trade and economic cooperation of March 26, 1996 regulates bilateral trade and economic relations, and governs the work of the Russian-Norwegian inter-governmental commission on economic, industrial, scientific and technical cooperation.

Norwegian Minister of Trade and Industry Trond Giske said earlier that his country would like to see more entrepreneurs from Russia.

“Their number is not as big as we would like. For Norwegian business, a key factor for moving to foreign markets is a predictable and stable situation. In my opinion, the absolute majority of Norwegian companies that have moved to Russia have worked out long-term plans and wish to contribute to the economic growth of your country,” Giske said.

“Norway and Russia have a tremendous potential for close economic cooperation, especially in such a sphere as energy, where positive experience has already been acquired in the oil and gas sector. This industry can be expanded further in such fields to improve energy efficiency, increase research activities, solve environmental problems, and use alternative sources of energy,” he said.

Gas production in the Barents Sea opens up prospects for economic and industrial development of the North, Minister of Foreign Affairs Jonas Gahr Stoere said earlier.

“If we open our eyes and grab these opportunities, we can speak of a new economic era with all the benefits for the social sphere, development and employment in the Subarctic,” the minister said.

He believes it necessary to face these prospects and take advantage of the latest discoveries in the Barents Sea that “inspire optimism”.

Stoere said this means that Norway will remain one of the world’s oil and gas leaders for a long time.

He stressed that the delimitation of seawaters with Russia was an important political event that opens up concrete prospects for production and for all related sectors in the Far North.

The agreement signed by the foreign ministers of the two countries in Murmansk on September 15, 2010 and ratified by the national parliaments put a period to the 40-year-long negotiations between the neighbouring states.

The document opens up opportunities for unhindered development of offshore oil and gas fields in the Arctic in an area of 175,000 square kilometres and lays down the terms of cooperation in the field of fishing.

Norway accounts for 0.4 percent of Russia’s foreign trade turnover. Russian export is dominated by resources (88 percent), including fuel and energy (57.1 percent), metals and products from them (22.4 percent), chemical industry products (4.7 percent), machinery, equipment and means of transport (4.2 percent), timber and pulp-and-paper products (1.4 percent).

Norway supplies mainly fish, fish products, agricultural produce (70.9 percent), machinery, equipment and means of transport (19.2 percent), metals and products from them (4.2 percent), and chemical industry products (3.5 percent).

About 120 enterprises with Norwegian capital are registered in Russia. Norwegian investments in Russia have reached about 1.9 billion U.S. dollars, mainly in the Murmansk, Arkhangelsk, and Leningrad regions. Priority is given to industry, wholesale trade, services, telecommunications, and mass media.

Russia’s presence at Spitsbergen occupies a special place in bilateral relations. As a party to the international treaty of 1920, Russia is engaged in economic activities (coal mining) and conducts research on the archipelago. A government commission on the Russian presence in Spitsbergen has been working since April 2007. In February 2008, the Russian government upgraded the consulate on the archipelago to consulate general.


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