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Asian Tribune is published by E-LANKA MEDIA(PVT)Ltd. Vol. 20 No. 107

Erik Solheim new Norwegian Minister of Environment: Will he shoot moose to prevent them burping and farting?

H. L. D. Mahindapala

Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stotenberg has re-shuffled his cabinet allocating two key ministries to Erik Solheim – the man from the Socialist Left who is projected as Norway’s heavyweight in international affairs.

In addition to the current post as Minister of International Development – a key post he holds to boost his image as a leading negotiator in the Middle East and Sri Lanka – he has been given the post of Environment too. Media reports said that he did not want to leave his post as Minister of International Development. However, Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre has taken over the duties of development assistance to the Middle East, which is meant to slightly lessen Solheim's workload.

His greatest claim to fame is the Ceasefire Agreement in Sri Lanka signed on February 22, 2002. The Tamil Tigers who got the best deal through the Agreement violated 98% of the terms and conditions, according to Scandinavian peace monitors. This is seen as the primary cause for the failure of the Agreement. Despite this failure the Norwegian media presents Solheim as a man with great experience in handling international affairs. Norwegian Against Terrorism (NAT), a critical NGO exposing Norwegians direct and indirect links to global terrorism, has also revealed details of Norway funding terrorists in the Middle East and Sri Lanka.

There are also several reports pointing a finger at Norwegian involvement in providing clandestinely Tamil Tigers weapons and other assistance. Reports from Eritrea and the latest reports from S. India have highlighted Norwegian connections to Tiger smuggling of arms.

Erik Solheim’s close connections to the Tigers, especially through his friend Anton Balasingham, have been exposed in the Sri Lankan media. The failure of negotiations with the Tamil Tigers is attributed partly to the partisan role played by Solheim. Sri Lankan delegates to the peace talks were taken aback by the blatant bias shown in dealing with the Tigers at negotiations in Geneva.

Norwegian public is seldom informed of the failure of Norwegian roles in the international arena. Norwegian media hardly bothers to review Norway’s role as a peace maker critically. Leading Norwegian media tends to portray Norway as a successful peacemaker. Those who are critical Norway’s roles are portrayed as a trouble-makers. They get quotes from Norwegian-funded peace activists and journalists to provide comments favourable to Norwegian foreign policy.

Analysts concede that Solheim is keen on hanging on to the post of International Development because Norwegian funding can be used as a tool to the influence decisions in the international scene. But neither Norwegian money nor its partisan role has brought any great success to Norway as a peace-maker.

The addition of the post of Environment is viewed as a means of influencing global environmental issues with Norway playing a prominent role. Aftenposten reported: “One of several reasons for the reshuffle may be the desire to have a weighty figure at the coming climate talks in Bali in early December, where Norway is tipped to have a leading role in one of the negotiation sessions.
“With a background as a peace negotiator Solheim has both the experience, skills and recognition to handle such a prominent international role.“

But Norway has launched one of the most appalling experiments in culling moose – regarded as the “King of he Forest” and also its national emblem – because their burping and farting is considered to be an eco-killer. Biologists argue that in one year a full-grown moose expels – from both ends of the body – a methane equivalent of 2100kg of carbon dioxide emissions. This adds up to emissions released across a 13,000km distance run by a car.

Biologist Prof. Reidar Andersen was quoted in the London Times as saying: “To put it into perspective the return flight from Oslo to Santiago in Chile leaves a carbon footprint of 880 kilos. Shoot a moose and you have saved the equivalent of two long-haul flights.”
The identical problem prevails with cows burping and farting. But researchers in Scotland and Wales have been examining how the changing of feeding habits can cut back the gaseous emissions.

Solheim, who is expected to give environmental issues a high profile, is most likely to go along with the culling of moose. The shooting season begins on September 25 and the Norwegian hunters are given an annual quota of 35,000.

Animal-rights activists argue that culling the wild moose population of 125,000 is not the solution. They insist on exploring other means.

- Asian Tribune -

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