Center for Strategic Decision Research


Norwegian Views on Security, the New NATO, and Enlargement

His Excellency Dag Jostein Fjaervoll
Minister of Defense of Norway


The end of the Cold War greatly enhanced Europe’s—and therefore Norway’s—security, opening the way for greater dialogue and more cooperative security structures. While some degree of uncertainty still remains, in this improved climate we do feel more secure.

However, with the post-Cold War changes, our Alliance has also changed, performing new roles and handling new responsibilities. More often than not, the new missions are transcending NATO’s perceived roles and responsibilities as the Alliance undertakes crisis management, WEU operational support, and cooperation with new Partner countries, to name just a few. Like the post-Cold War climate, Norway also welcomes this change.

But for small countries, such as Norway, it will be increasingly difficult to find the resources necessary to cope with all aspects of NATO cooperation equally. To make ends meet, NATO will at some point be forced to give thought to priorities. To Norway, NATO serves as the most important arena for security consultations. Hence, it is imperative that NATO retain its capabilities, both for collective defense and for collaboration on a broad range of security issues. But it will be one of many challenges for small countries to make sure their voice is heard, and to take part on an equal footing in the decision-making process. It will be key for NATO, therefore, to keep the decision-making process flexible and open.

I am pleased to say that Norway was the third country in the Alliance to formally ratify the accession of Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic to NATO. The support in our parliament was overwhelming. The leaders of the major political parties emphasized that this enlargement is only a first step, and that other applicants for membership will be invited when they fulfill the requirements, when NATO is prepared to further enlarge, and when such a step is likely to further enhance European security and stability.

Norway is emphatic that the door to further enlargement remain open. Nevertheless, neither we nor NATO as a whole has made any decision regarding timing. In our view, it is premature to enter into any discussion concerning the next round of enlargement. Yet we fully understand applicant nations’ aspirations for membership. The Alliance always has been—and will continue to be—open to those who are willing and able to share the responsibilities of membership.


The Norwegian government expects peace-support operations to be of great importance to NATO in the future. Apart from their immediate crisis management objectives, such operations give our forces training within the Alliance or PFP framework and reinforce the legitimacy of the defense cause. Additionally, such international operations continue the effort of working to address the different types of conflict that are appearing in the new international environment.

Norway believes NATO and PFP to be the best tools available for the demanding peace-support operations we will face in the future. Article 5 still constitutes NATO’s most important dimension, but the non-Article 5 operations have already proven rewarding. It is imperative, nevertheless, that we maintain the member/non-member distinction in this new area of PFP cooperation.

Norway also actively supports the efforts aimed at strengthening OSCE’s role in European crisis management and crisis prevention. In 1999 Norway will assume the OSCE’s chairmanship. One of the Norwegian government’s main objectives will be to further strengthen the OSCE’s executive functions, especially the organization’s ability to intervene at the early stages of a crisis.

In terms of ambitions, the OSCE has raised its sights considerably. One of the new areas it has entered into is conflict prevention. In the event of a conflict within or between OSCE member-states, the organization, if called upon, must be able to draw upon the resources, expertise, and experience of others, not the least of which is NATO. The initiation of talks between NATO and the OSCE in 1998 has been of significance for both groups, in particular in the areas of information sharing, briefings, consultations, and cooperation on the ground. The OSCE’s role in crisis management should and will be further examined. However, in my view, the OSCE should not attempt to duplicate NATO’s military capacity for conducting peace operations. Instead, it should take on a greater and more prominent role as a mandating regional security instrument acting under Chapter VIII of the U.N. Charter.

A critical component of the OSCE, which is also found in other European security institutions, is its potential to carry out close and informal collaboration without the traditional competitive tendencies overtaking its agenda. If we remember, when we deal with different security structures, that different organizations serve different purposes, we decrease the likelihood of duplication as well as the potential for rivalry.


In February 1998, the Norwegian government presented a White Paper to parliament that spelled out the guidelines for and the activities of the armed forces for the next four years. These guidelines included the government’s objective of retaining the capacity to defend a part of the country against invasion for the limited period of time until Allied reinforcements arrive. It also stated that our armed forces should seek to be capable of defending Norwegian territory against limited attacks, and to pursue other tasks such as crisis management and maintaining national sovereignty. Additionally, the government stated that there will be increased emphasis on participation in NATO Reaction Forces and in international peace-support operations. The principles of our total defense concept and of universal conscription will be maintained.

In recent years it has been increasingly difficult to attract NATO attention to the northern part of Europe in general and, hence, to specific Norwegian concerns. But while most NATO countries have reduced their defense spending, Norway has so far been able to keep up the level of its defense budget. There is no scope for reductions in Norwegian defense spending. The government plans to maintain today’s budget level in real terms during the next two years and to show modest growth in two to four years. Priority will be given to the modernization of military equipment and to training and exercises, in particular training and exercises with Allied forces in Norway.

One of the most critical aspects of the White Paper is its emphasis on enhanced mobility and flexibility and the implementation of a force structure that can handle all types of tasks. At the end of the day, a credible territorial defense is a necessary condition for properly managing all the other tasks we must be prepared to handle. However, to make territorial defense a sufficient condition for addressing all the additional tasks requires adaptation, in particular in the areas of flexibility and mobility.


Between the new and the old, and between the international and the domestic, we find the very essence of Norway’s current security policy. It is a policy that seeks to prepare the ground for the 21st century, and acknowledges the relevance of international responsibilities for challenges at home. Norwegian servicemen have become increasingly aware that our participation internationally, within NATO as well as within the U.N., has significant bearing on how our forces adapt to tasks at home.

For several decades, when Super-Power tension, suspicion, and distrust prevailed, Norway was largely an importer of security. Today, with the shift in the security climate, we also see ourselves as an exporter of security. As the world has changed, we have changed. We believe in institutional frameworks as vehicles of commitment. And we envision a Europe that will emphasize dialogue rather than discord, cooperation rather than confrontation. Norway has benefited from mutual agreements in the past, and so our goal is to have as many states as possible harvest the bounty of the work of international institutions.


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