– We have a lot of common tasks in the Barents region, and in the Arctic. We are doomed to cooperate, and we have to cooperate, Russia’s Ambassador to Norway Vyacheslav Pavlovskiy stated yesterday when he visited Bodø for the first time.
When the Russian Ambassador paid a friendly and first time visit to Bodø yesterday, High North News got an exclusive interview.
– What is it like in these days – with a colder political climate – to work as the Russian Ambassador to Norway?
– I have my mission, to contribute to developing the relationship between Russia and Norway. I can’t deny that the political situation has an impact on the overall relations, but I am trying to do what I have to do. In a way it is more difficult, but I wouldn’t say that all doors are closed, and I am happy that the Norwegian government sees the importance of furthering the relations in particular areas. I will not repeat them, because they have been mentioned several times by Prime Minister Solberg and Foreign Minister Brende, and other Norwegian officials, Pavlovskiy says.
Don’t expect a breakthrough
On request, the Ambassador says he is definitely allowed to have his own opinions, and that he is not fully “tied up” in his official position.
- I am saying quite honestly what I am doing here, and what I want to do here, the Ambassador says, before pausing.
- Look; During my ten year - to be a realistic - it is difficult to expect a breakthrough or some exceptional achievements, due to the geopolitical factor. But again; Am I for the relations? Absolutely. Do I consider this important? Yes, extremely important, because we are neighbours. We have a lot of common tasks in the Barents region, and in the Arctic. We are doomed to cooperate, and we have to cooperate, the Ambassador says.
Affect the political framework
When HNN talks to him he has just finished a lunch with a group of Russian students at the University of Nordland.
- You mention the Barents region, and say that some doors are still open. What do you mean?
- If I am saying that some doors are still open, I mean that I can communicate with Norwegian officials on all levels, he says, before adding:
- But I would say that due to the fact that the political contact between Norway and Russia has been reduced, it is more difficult for me to communicate with some Norwegian officials at the ministerial level. That comprises, at least in parts, the framework of the political contact.
Ruled by cliché’s
- What is your opinion on the Norwegian media's coverage of the situation?
- In one word; it is biased. It is biased because…well, I regret that there are very few articles with very deep and profound coverage of the current situation. Mostly there are cliché’s that are used. It is easier for many journalists or correspondents - I dont want to name them – to get their information published in major western newspapers or other media sources, to get their stories published or reproduced. But I, objectively, have recently seen more articles with an attempt to be more critical to the geopolitical situation, and the situation in Ukraine. I hope it will become a trend. But again; I can’t say that this is a given fact right now. It may be just some articles I have encountered with, Vyacheslav Pavlovskiy says.
- Major city in the Arctic
During yesterdays visit Pavlovskiy visited both the High North Center for Business & Governance at the University of Nordland, and the Major of Bodø.
- Why is it important to visit the High North Center?
- First of all, I think that I owe Bodø a lot, because Bodø is a major city in the Arctic and the university is one of the most respected in Norway. I would like to know more about the activity of the university, about the High North Center, and the cooperation programs it has with Russian universities. I am also happy to meet Russian participants at these programs, Pavlovskiy says.
- I also have the honour of meeting the major of Bodø. I like to meet people who live in the Arctic and who deal with the Russian federation, and who are involved in particular projects. Actually those people understand Russia even more than those who write those articles about the Russian Federation because they have an objective picture, and they know just not bad things, but also good things.
- Støre is smart
Director at the High North Center for Business and Governance Frode Mellemvik stated at the meeting with the ambassador yesterday that it is great that Russia and Norway still can cooperate, in a time when the political climate is a lot colder than it used to be just a few years ago.
The Russian ambassador agrees;- It’s terrific, Pavlovskiy says.
During the meeting the Russian Ambassador revealed that he is a great fan of Norway’s former Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre, who is now the Leader of the Norwegian Labour Party.
- Støre is smart, the Russian ambassador commented.
- He sees things, not only in black and white. He looks deeply into the issue, and I appreciate that. In addition he also has a lot of other good qualities, Pavlovskiy says.
- I'll be back
The Russian Ambassador’s visit to Bodø and Norway lasted only until this morning, but Pavlovskiy is quite sure that he will be back again soon:
- I have my best expectations to visit Bodø again, probably this fall, or winter, he said minutes before he set off to meet Bodø’s major Ole Hjartøy.
Vyacheslav Pavlovskiy was appointed to the position as Russia’s ambassador to Norway five years ago. He has been working in the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and in the diplomatic service since 1978, or “all my life”, as he puts it himself.
Pavlovskiy have previously been stationed in New York where he held the post at General Consul.