The Storting committee was reciprocating a visit to Oslo in June 2016 by Kosachev and a delegation. The meetings in Moscow were the first in seven years for the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence.
In addition to the meeting and working lunch with Kosachev and his Foreign Affairs Committee, the programme consisted of an introductory meeting with Federation Council First Deputy Chair Nikolai Fedorov, a meeting with Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Alexander Grushko, a meeting with Human Rights Watch and Memorial and a working dinner with prominent journalists.
“We had positive and useful talks with the Russian side in Moscow,” said Anniken Huitfeldt, chair of the committee from the Storting (Norway’s parliament).
She added: “We discussed a number of key issues in an open, constructive and good atmosphere, where clear disagreements also arose on some issues. Dialogue between parliamentarians is an important supplement to the usual contact between the governments of our two countries.”
Cooperation in the north
The agenda covered a number of issues. Bilateral relations were in focus during the meetings at the Federation Council and the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. There was agreement that cooperation in the north was of particular importance and should be strengthened, including cooperation on people-to-people relations, the environment, energy and fisheries as well as search and rescue and military dialogue in the north.
The situation in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe was discussed with the Federation Council. At issue was the necessity of finding a solution to enable Russia once again to participate normally in the work of the assembly. The Russian delegation’s voting rights have been withheld due to the country’s actions in Ukraine, and it neither attends meetings nor makes its payments to the organisation.
Developments in Ukraine
The Storting committee brought up the topic of Ukrainian developments and presented Norwegian views on the reasons for the restrictive measures that have been imposed. Security policy and the relationship between NATO and Russia were also discussed, including the forthcoming NATO exercise Trident Juncture.
Nuclear weapons disarmament was discussed, including the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which Russia does not support. Also discussed in detail were the effort to retain the Iran agreement and the North Korean issue. Developments in the Middle East, especially pertaining to Syria, were thoroughly reviewed.
Human rights issues
In the meeting with representatives of Human Rights Watch and Memorial, the committee discussed human rights issues and the worrying developments in Russia in this area. During a working dinner with prominent journalists, domestic policy trends in Russia were discussed.
The following Storting members took part in the trip: Chair Anniken Huitfeldt (Labour Party), Deputy Chair Christian Tybring-Gjedde (Progress Party), Jonas Gahr Støre (Labour Party), Trond Helleland (Conservative Party), Hans Andreas Limi (Progress Party), Audun Lysbakken (Socialist Left Party), Liv Signe Navarsete (Centre Party), Ingjerd Schou (Conservative Party), Per Willy Amundsen (Progress Party) and Hårek Elvenes (Conservative Party).