Norway and the 2005 Elektron Affair: Conflict of Competences and Competent Realpolitik

In T.G. Jakobsen (ed), War: An Introduction to Theories and Research on Collective Violence, 2nd Edition. New York, Nova Science Publishers, 2015, pp. 373-402.

In this chapter, we analyse how the Norwegian authorities dealt with the Elektron affair, taking as our point of departure a range of circumstances and aspects likely to have influenced Norway’s foreign-policy room for manoeuvre and its priorities in the matter. The decision-makers’ motives and possibilities are reconstructed, in an attempt to explain, firstly, why the Norwegian Coast Guard inspected the Elektron and placed it under arrest on October 15, 2005; and secondly, why the Russian trawler was not intercepted by force when its captain changed course and headed for Russian waters the next day. Both outside-in and inside-out perspectives of Foreign Policy Analysis are applied. We find that, despite of conflicting competencies between the Norwegian ministries of Justice, Defence and Foreign Affairs as to whether the case of Elektron should be dealt with in a Norwegian court as a criminal act of illegal fishing, or rather as a dispute with a foreign great power (Russia), the actual management and outcome of the conflict support the conclusion that crisis-management was executed in a competent and pragmatic manner. The study is a case study in Norwegian foreign policy crisis management as it unfolded within an Arctic resource management regime and, increasingly, with the Russian authorities as both fellow players and opponents.



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