Foreign Ministry: Important to keep BarentsObserver as independent as possible

Norway’s Foreign Ministry sends a crystal clear message to the owners of BarentsObserver.

In a letter sent Friday evening to the chairman of the Board of the Barents Secretariat, Stig Olsen, the Foreign Ministry strongly contradict any claims that they want to limit the independence of BarentsObserver’s reporting.

“It is not correct, as some media have described, that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) wants BarentsObserver to be an informational website, and not an independent newspaper. On the contrary, it is MFA’s view that it would be an advantage if it still has the most independent line possible,” the letter reads.

Signed by MFA’s Assistant Director General, Christian Halaas Lyster, the letter continues: 

“It will be important for its credibility and legitimacy. This was also communicated by State Secretary Bård Glad Pedersen in a meeting on December 3rd 2014 with then Chairman of the Board Stein Ovesen and Leader of the Barents Secretariat Pia Svensgaard.”

The Foreign Ministry says BarentsObserver plays an important role in cross-border people-to-people cooperation in the north.

“Increased editorial independence through the signing of the Rights and Duties of the Editor will have no negative impact on the funding from the MFA. NORAD (Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation) already publishes the newspaper Bistandsaktuelt, which operates after the principles of the Rights and Duties of the Editor.” 

BarentsObserver has according to the Foreign Ministry evolved into an important and good news agency in their field.

MFA says they want a further dialogue on this matter and requests that the Board informs closer on the case and the way forward.