Progressives slam US-Norway additional agreement on military bases

The Supplementary Defense Cooperation Agreement (SDCA) allows the US military unhindered access to several Norwegian bases. It was recently approved by the Scandinavian country’s parliament

June 07, 2022 by Peoples Dispatch
Norway-US agreement on bases
Protest against the US-Norway Agreement on Bases. (Photo: via Rodt Narvik)

Progressive and anti-war sections in Norway have slammed an agreement that provides the US exclusive and unhindered access to its military bases. On Friday, June 3, the incumbent Labor Party-Center Party coalition-dominated Norwegian parliament, Storting, approved the additional agreement on defense cooperation between Norway and the US. The communist Rodt (Red Party), Socialist Left Party (SV) and the Greens had opposed the proposal, while right-wing parties in Storting supported it. 

Anti-war groups like Norway For Peace and the Communist Party of Norway (NKP) also protested against the dilution of Norway’s seven decade foreign policy which did not allow the presence of foreign military bases on Norwegian soil. Last week, opponents of the military agreement organized protest demonstrations under the leadership of Rodt and the SV at several places including the Evenes Airport and the Ramsund Orlog station.

In April 2021, the conservative government led by Erna Solberg concluded the Supplementary Defense Cooperation Agreement (SDCA) with the US which allows the latter to build facilities at three Norwegian airfields and one naval base to further enhance cooperation between the two armed forces. In the backdrop of the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war and bids by neighboring Finland and Sweden for NATO membership, the incumbent Labor Party-Center Party coalition government led by Jonas Gahr Støre decided to go ahead with the agreement.

With the agreement now ratified by the Storting, the US armed forces may have exclusive rights to use parts of the Rygge Military Air Station and Airfield, Sola Military Air Station and Airfield, Evenes Military Air Station and Airfield, and the Ramsund Naval Station. The agreement allows the US unhindered access to the areas as well as permitting them to build military infrastructure.

According to Rodt head and Storting member Bjørnar Moxnes, “there is no doubt that this agreement undermines the principle of Norwegian base policy. Since 1949, the Norwegian line has been that other countries should not have military bases on Norwegian soil to ensure a balance between deterring and reassuring Russia.”

“Now [Storting’s vote] this can increase tension and reduce the security of Norway,” Moxnes said. The SV also vehemently opposed the deal and stated that Norway may lose access to their own bases in the country.

Norway has of late become an important host and party to NATO-US military exercises in the Scandinavian region.