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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2964

Former Norwegian PM, Jagland, blames Norway for the failure of peace in Sri Lanka

H. L. D. Mahindapala

The failure of Erik Solheim's peace-making efforts is now recognised at the highest level in Norwrgian political circles. Former Prime Minister Torbjørn Jagland is the latest to focus on the Norway's failure in Sri Lanka.

In article published in Afternpost Jagland said: “Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre and Development Minister Erik Solheim get most of the blame for Norway’s failed peace policy.”

Jagland is not the only political leader to criticse Norway's role in international affairs. Morten Hoglund, member of the Foreign Affairs Committee and International Affairs, and spokesperson for the Progress Party, told me at a meeting held in a room in the Norwegian Parliament, in August 2004, that Solheim was a novice with no experience in diplomacy. Hoglund said that Solheim was a politician catapulted from his electorate into global affairs with no skills in handling international affairs. He was also critical of a small country like Norway trying to play a big role in international affairs with the power of oil money.

Jagland too echoed this criticism when he wrote that a lot of Norway's failure has to be blamed on “Norwegian politicians together with the press” which tend to project Norway as an important global player. The Norwegian media, however, have been indifferent to developments in Sri Lanka. Other than blowing up the image of Norway as a key player in international affairs the media does not provide in-depth analyses of global events. The parochial Norwegian media is more worried about the moose and cows pasing wind and polluting the environment than about Sri Lanka and other world events in which Norway is involved.

Focusing on another aspect, Jagland has been critical of Noway's attempt to go solo, leaving out EU and UN.

Even when the World Alliance for Peace in Sri Lanka (WAPS) took the Sri Lankan issue to Oslo the media virtually blacked out the event. It was more interested in casting aspersions on WAPS quoting Norwegian-funded NGO in Sri Lanka rather than presenting an objective report.

Norway also has a prestigious peace institute. The Peace Research Institute of Oslo (PRIO) has been used an adjunct of Norway's foreign policy. A researcher who was sent to Sri Lanka reported in her paper the need to infiltrate the sangha -- the order of Buddhist monks -- to influence Sri Lankan politics. Following this Norwegian government waded heavily into Buddhist temples financing projects along with the allied NGOs.

Here is the full report in the Aftenposten (04.01.2008)

Jagland critical of Solheim and Støre

By: Kristoffer Rønneberg

Former Prime Minister Torbjørn Jagland is not impressed with Norway’s peace work abroad.

In an article in Aftenposten today Jagland points to how Norway has failed to create peace in conflict affected countries and areas.

He mentions among other things the conflict in Sri Lanka where Norway has had an active role as peace mediators and observers.

This conflict has become considerably tense in the last few days after the government formally terminated the ceasefire agreement that was made with the LTTE in 2002.

The 20 Norwegian observers in Sri Lanka are now shutting down their six offices and have to leave the country by 16th January.

“It has been claimed that Norway could not have functioned as facilitator to the peace process if we were a member of the EU. But nearly all peace processes we have been involved in are in tatters,” writes Jagland.

Jagland believes that a lot of it has to be blamed on “Norwegian politicians together with the press” who talk about Norway as an important global nation.

“This does not fit with Norway not being able to change anything in relation to the big global issues,” writes Jagland.

“Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre and Development Minister Erik Solheim get most of the blame for Norway’s failed peace policy,” claims Jagland, who wants Norwegian authorities to cooperate more with large institutions like the EU and the UN instead of going solo.

“The global institutions that Norway has always built its altruistic foreign policy on, is deteriorating whilst our two ministers from the Foreign Ministry are traveling all around the world with all their little projects,” writes Jagland.

- Asian Tribune -

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