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New NATO chief touts relationship with Russia as he takes office

October 2nd, 2014
03:11 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

The new NATO Secretary General, Former Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, emphasized his long and productive relationship with Russia in an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, a day after he took office.

“As a Norwegian politician in Norway, a country bordering Russia, I have developed a working relationship with Russia,” he said. “And we were able also during the coldest period of the Cold War to work with Russia on issues like fishery, energy, environment.”

When Stoltenberg was chosen for the position earlier this year, Russian President Vladimir Putin told Russian State TV that he had “very good relations, including personal relations” with the former Norwegian premier.

“This is a very serious, responsible person,” President Putin said, “but we’ll see how our relations develop with him in his new position.”

“When I was prime minister,” Stoltenberg told Amanpour, “we also were able to reach an agreement on a border line, delimitation line on the Barents Sea. And I see no contradiction between having a strong defense, a strong NATO, a predictable and firm policy, and at the same time aspiring for a more constructive relationship with Russia.”

NATO, long-thought of as a Cold War relic, suddenly appears incredibly relevant; not only because of Russia’s incursions into Ukraine, but also because of the rise of ISIS in Iraq and Syria – on the border of NATO-member-state Turkey – and the tenuous security situation in Afghanistan, where NATO troops are stationed.

Stoltenberg comes to the job with little concrete defense experience – but he challenged that characterization, telling Amanpour that, “It’s not possible to be prime minister in government in Norway without being engaged in defense issues.”

He also has a complicated past with NATO, having at one point in his life opposed Norway’s membership in the military alliance.

“I think that all people develop,” he said. “And I think that's a good thing.”

“The Labour Party was strongly in favor of NATO membership. But the Young Labour Party disagreed. But when I was the chairman, I was able to convince the Young Labour Party to be in favor.”

“So I think you can hardly find any other Norwegian politician who [has] fought so hard for being in favor of NATO as I did when I turned my organization from being against to be in favor.”

Stoltenberg was catapulted onto the world stage when, under his watch as prime minister on July 22, 2011, the right-wing extremist Anders Behring Breivik killed 77 people in Oslo and on nearby Utoya Island.

“I've seen the sorrow, the grief, which terror attacks imposes on so many people.”

“And I've also seen the importance … of improving preparedness and readiness to fight terrorists, whatever form it occurs.”

“And then of course, the importance of standing by our values, of an open democratic society. That's what the terrorists tried to attack and that's what we have to defend.”

Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Latest Episode • Russia • Ukraine
soundoff (15 Responses)
  1. nick

    you can found every commie to dislike nato and admire ruSSia he's no different, I'm stunned hi is a nato chief now!

    October 2, 2014 at 7:34 pm | Reply
  2. D.Bose

    Removals of the Nazis from power in Ukraine should be the first priority of the new NATO chief.
    3000 Russians were killed in Ukraine, another 100,000 Ukranian Russians are refugees in Russia. However, the Western media is silent; so much so for a free press which is censored heavily by USA-UK.
    ISIS problem can be solved if NATO start bombing Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Turkey, UAE and put Kerry-Obama-Clinton in Guantanomo Base. Otherwise it will continue.

    October 3, 2014 at 1:04 am | Reply
    • VITALY

      Not Ukranian power but Putin is fascist like Hitler

      October 3, 2014 at 6:00 am | Reply
    • VITALY

      But how much ukranians were killd but putin's terrorists in Ukranian?

      October 3, 2014 at 6:13 am | Reply
      • Western Propaganda

        Ukrainians are fleeing to the Putin's "terrorist" regime for safety from Ukie pro-US regime. Both civilian and military.

        October 4, 2014 at 1:11 pm |
      • rozen

        ukraine is gone

        November 10, 2014 at 9:59 pm |
    • Chris

      These communists are so deluded ha ha

      October 3, 2014 at 1:45 pm | Reply
    • Socrates1947

      Russian propaganda is back through a new comrade Popov, alias D.Bose.

      October 6, 2014 at 3:41 am | Reply

    Russia is the enemy of democracy and to close eyes before this is the crime

    October 3, 2014 at 6:07 am | Reply
  4. Etinge Onga

    The new Nato chief should help to foster relations with Russia so as to clear the impass over Ukraine

    October 3, 2014 at 6:58 am | Reply
  5. Western Propaganda

    Western nazi alliance ignores those butchered by Ukraine if it's not in their interest. There is no point in dialogue.

    October 4, 2014 at 1:02 pm | Reply
  6. Western Propaganda

    Oh, and don't make it sound like you and OTAN have authority to decide in the world what others must do, you don't.

    October 4, 2014 at 1:04 pm | Reply
  7. Western Propaganda

    What about those Russians in the Baltics? Are you still pis-sing yourself at the thought that they repay your treatment of them?

    That's the only explanation countries like France are forced to fund your nazi alliance.

    October 4, 2014 at 1:08 pm | Reply
  8. Слободан

    В любом норвежском фьорде .

    October 6, 2014 at 3:37 am | Reply
  9. fms

    russland is a old land with a culture , is one continent with deutschland and many deutsche are friends with russland .the cold war was ,but not if what deutschland never produces justice about own past.the itu is since over 100years ,means all humans try to exist with all the problems since than .wars ,kriege,deutschland did much or for a gott ,a wahrheit .england maybe produced the human rights ,america a free land.herrschen is not right or to let work the people ,who produced so .the nato is not the right ,justice ,for who works the nato .europe is a peace idea with human who is the nato real responsible.why are you mr stoltenberg a real responsible ,you are real responsible for tuerken and norwegers who like to make fkk on a small island and for a verfasung about what ,or who ,so as in bremen ,or is it the nordallianz of the spd partei with their lauschangriff after hitler self .means when do the spd partei produces justice not only gerechtigkeit .means too not only the target the un security council sitz with a ideologie so as the islam terroirists too has ,only the better human gets love or what that is ,kinders ,children .what religion are you mr stoltenberg .or mr zierckes .thank you f.m.sieling

    October 6, 2014 at 9:35 am | Reply

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