On 28 and 29 April Foreign Minister Steinmeier holds talks with the Norwegian Government and NATO Secretary General designate Jens Stoltenberg in Oslo.
On Monday (28 April) Foreign Minister Steinmeier paid his first official visit to Norway since resuming office. His first meeting in Oslo was with the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Norway, Erna Solberg. The talks with Solberg focused on the very good German‑Norwegian relations as well as current foreign policy crises, most notably the conflict in Ukraine.
“The situation in Ukraine is worrying and at the moment is deteriorating from day to day,” said Foreign Minister Steinmeier, speaking in Oslo on Monday.
The Geneva accord could have formed the basis for starting to de‑escalate the overall situation. But we have not yet reached the point where all parties are willing to actually implement the steps outlined in this document.
Jointly tackling foreign policy challenges
The current foreign policy challenges were also at the centre of the evening’s talks. Foreign Minister Steinmeier and his Norwegian counterpart Børge Brende likewise discussed the crisis in Ukraine and relations with Russia. Thirteen members of an OSCE military observer mission are still being held by separatists in Ukraine.
Steinmeier stressed that “a rapid solution to this development” must be found.
I have spoken to the Russian interlocutors many times on the phone and explained in no uncertain terms that Russia, too, now has to use its influence to obtain the prisoners’ release as soon as possible.
The two foreign ministers also held in‑depth talks on bilateral and European issues, the future of the Middle East peace process and the recent death sentences in Egypt. Commenting on the death sentences passed on 683 supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood, Steinmeier said that they were “in no way politically or legally acceptable and violate international law”.
Important role of Norway in diversification of energy supply
Speaking in Oslo, Steinmeier said he did not fear restrictions on Russian gas deliveries to Europe.
However, the German Foreign Minister emphasised that Norway played a crucial role in the diversification of energy supply, going on to say, “I would welcome a move by Norway to increase its production if the need arises.”
Meeting with the NATO Secretary General designate
On Tuesday (29 April) Foreign Minister Steinmeier met former Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, who has been appointed as the new NATO Secretary General from 1 October 2014. He will take over from the Dane Anders Fogh Rasmussen. On Monday Steinmeier had already congratulated Norway on the appointment at the press conference in Oslo.
The two politicians exchanged views on the future challenges facing the transatlantic military alliance and the strategic direction it should adopt. With regard to the Ukraine crisis the focus is on the principle of collective defence as well as the agenda of cooperative security.
The meeting took place in the historic Akershus Fortress in the centre of Oslo.
Close cooperation between EU and Norway
Following the talks Foreign Minister Steinmeier will meet the Norwegian Minister responsible for EEA and EU affairs, Vidar Helgesen. The close ties between Norway and the European Union (EU) are reflected in the fields of free movement, fisheries policy and particularly economic cooperation, among others.
Norway is not a member of the EU but does belong to the European Economic Area (EEA): The EEA is an enhanced free‑trade area between the countries of the EU and Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.