The Norwegian government of Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, an extreme-left coalition of Stoltenberg’s Workers’ Party (Ap), the Socialist Left Party (SV) and the green Center Party (Sp), wants to ban Cuban democrats from attending Norway’s national holiday festivities. The SV is also calling for a boycot of Israel.
On Monday Jonas Gahr Støre (Ap), the Norwegian Foreign Minister, announced that he is considering to no longer invite opponents of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro to the Norwegian embassy’s party in Havana on May 17, Norway’s national holiday. Gahr Støre is doing this at the request of Gerd-Liv Valla, the chairperson of the Norwegian Socialist Trade Union (LO), who considers herself to be the godmother of Stoltenberg’s party.
Valla, a former member of the far-left student organisation Kommunistisk Universitetslag, recently visited Cuba. She returned to Oslo with the message that it is more important for Norway to have good relations with Castro than with the Cuban democratic opposition. The Cuban regime refuses to attend events at embassies if representatives of the opposition are also present. Norway is not a member of the European Union, but the latter also believes that the pro-democracy activists in Cuba should stop “provoking” Castro by drawing attention to themselves and ask for freedom.
Though the Workers’ Party has no qualms about bashing Cuban dissidents, the demand by prominent leaders of the SV, the second party in the Norwegian government, for a government boycot of Israel is not going down well with the Ap. During the election campaign last Summer the SV had promised its voters a pro-Castro and an anti-Israel policy. Last week, however, Prime Minister Stoltenberg said that the SV has a right to its own opinions, but made it quite clear that boycotting Israel is not the official policy of his government. SV leader Kristin Halvorsen, the Finance Minister, admitted that the coalition agreement does not mention a boycot of Israel.
In the past Norway has tried to play the role of peace negotiator between Israel and the Palestinians. The 1993 Oslo Accords were signed in the Norwegian capital. Adopting the SV proposal to boycot Israel as official Norwegian government policy would make it extremely difficult for Oslo to continue its role as mediator, as that implies that one does not choose sides in a conflict. To be a mediator between the Cuban communist regime and Cuban democrats, however, is clearly not one of Oslo’s ambitions.