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Russian Trade Relations with Norway and Finland Are Shifting, in Attempt To Return to Pre-Sanctions Levels and Better

Nov. 29, 2016 (EIRNS)—Despite NATO-related tensions, Russia and Norway plan to sign several new economic and political agreements at the session of their inter-governmental commission on economic, industrial, and scientific and technical cooperation in the spring of 2017. Russia's ecology and natural resources minister and Norway's trade and industry minister had agreed to resume sessions of the commission which had been suspended since June 2013, after Norway joined the sanctions regime of the European Union, although it is not a member of the EU.

"In the second half of April [2017], the session of the commission should take place with participation of the Norwegian minister. I hope that we will prepare all necessary proposals by that time. We plan to sign several agreements—in the spheres of scientific and technical cooperation, regional cooperation, energy,"

Russia's Minister of Natural Resources and Ecology Sergey Donskoy told TASS after meeting with Norwegian Minister of Trade and Industry Monica Maeland.

Maeland said,

"I had a constructive and good meeting with Minister Donskoy; we are positive towards a resumption of a political dialogue on trade and economic cooperation. We want a good neighborly relationship with Russia, and not the least in the north, where we have a common border and common interests."

At the meeting with Maeland, Donskoy said,

"we discussed what has been done since 2014 at the level of [the] commission's working groups. We also continue to cooperate with Norway in the sphere of oil and gas. Lukoil and Rosneft, which are working on the shelf here, have continued their operations throughout all this time. Other Russian companies are also considering the potential of the Norwegian shelf."

"Norway remains a strategic partner for Russia in northern Europe," Donskoy is quoted sayin in the Barents Observer.

Prior to the imposition of EU sanctions and Russian counter-sanctions, Russian-Norwegian trade turnover was €3 billion, including more than €1 billion in Norwegian fish exports to Russia. Now trade is less than €1 billion, which the two countries hope to increase.

In another sign of a shift in European-Russian relations, the Finnish-Russian trade commission met in Moscow last week for the first time in three and a half years. Finnish Minister for Foreign and Development Kai Mykkänen told the Barents Observer that a renewal of cooperation at the state level will open new trade opportunities. Finland is a member of the European Union and has been also toeing the anti-Russia line, although not as stubbornly as some of the other Baltic states. The week before, Finnish Interior Minister Paula Risikko had been in Moscow for meetings with FSB leader Aleksandr Bortnikov, Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev, and Emergency Situations Minister Vladimir Pushkov.

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