– If Listhaug distances herself from Hagen, then she must also distance herself from her own foreign policy spokesperson who has said the same things as Hagen in the media over many years, says Venstre leader Guri Melby to Dagbladet.
On Wednesday, Dagbladet mentioned a recently deleted Facebook post by Frp leader Carl I. Hagen.
Here he stated, among other things, that he thinks the Western rejection of a referendum in Donbas is “very unwise” and that he was disappointed with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.
The FRP distanced itself from Hagen’s statements, but that is not enough, Melby believes.
Now she is asking the FRP to clean up its own ranks.
Not just Carl Ivar
Melby claims that Hagen is not alone in having such attitudes in the FRP.
Foreign policy spokesperson Christian Tybring-Gjedde, who sits on the foreign affairs committee together with Listhaug, has also made similar statements, she points out.
She refers, among other things, to an article in Dagbladet from 2018 which mentioned that Hagen had allowed himself to be interviewed by the Russian TV channel Russia Today (RT). Here, Hagen expresses that the West must accept that Russia takes the Crimean peninsula, which they annexed in 2014.
At the time, Tybring-Gjedde emphasized that Hagen’s plan was not FRP politics, but nevertheless agreed with parts of Hagen’s message.
– He is still the foreign policy spokesperson, meaning he is responsible for the party’s foreign policy, says Melby.
– Too serious
– Is it not allowed to have different opinions in a party, Melby?
– Yes, it is. But neither Hagen nor Tybring-Gjedde are just anyone in the FRP. Hagen is a former leader of the party, and one must expect that what he says carries weight both in the party and among people, says Melby before she turns to her party colleague:
– Just a few years ago, Tybring-Gjedde opened up to accepting Russian control over Crimea, if it could improve relations between Russia and the West. So exactly what Putin wants to do in Luhansk now.
Melby points out that Tybring-Gjedde sits on the foreign affairs committee and is the FRP’s foreign policy spokesperson. This means that he speaks on behalf of the party in foreign affairs.
– He has also said that Nato and Stoltenberg have used too strong words against Russia and Putin, and asked for the sanctions against Russia to be reduced. Isn’t that Frp’s policy, or does the Frp have a foreign policy spokesperson in private practice? It must be clarified, otherwise it is impossible to understand what the party means, says Melby.
Melby emphasizes that she basically believes that parties’ internal affairs should be up to them, but that in this particular case it is too serious not to deal with.
– Our neighbor to the east is currently stepping up its brutal invasion of Ukraine. Then the parties in the Storting must clarify where they stand, continues Melby.
She is aware that the time when Russia can annex territory through fake referendums is over, and that the rest of the world sees right through this game.
She also makes a political call:
– The West must immediately step up its support for Ukraine, and they must get the weapons support they need to fight back against the imperialist and authoritarian regime of Putin. We must be vigilant now, she concludes.
– Needless to mention
Christian Tybring-Gjedde responds to the criticism from Melby by saying that he thinks it is “unfortunate and unnecessary” to again bring this up for debate.
– The political community should stand united in our defense of Ukraine and not create debates that only aim to create division. For my part, I have repeatedly said that I was wrong about Putin. He turned out to be a dictatorial leader with no respect either for neighboring countries or human life, says Tybring-Gjedde to Dagbladet.
He goes on to say that, without comparison, like French President Macron and German Chancellor Scholtz, he believed in and hoped for a diplomatic solution.
– But it was futile. Incidentally, I have never voiced or supported an idea of a referendum in some parts of eastern Ukraine, as Russia is currently planning. After Russia’s attack on Ukraine, I have shown a great commitment to Ukraine’s defense. Whether it applies in debates, appeals or in the Storting.
Reply with picture
Tybring-Gjedde also uses the opportunity to send a photo of former Prime Minister Erna Solberg together with Putin to Dagbladet’s reporters.
– There are probably more people who should sweep their own doors. The picture was taken during a meeting of the Arctic Council in 2019. It is five years after Russia’s annexation of Crimea. Here, both the prime minister and the foreign minister are in cheerful passion with President Putin. Doesn’t look like it’s the annexation of Crimea that has the biggest focus. Incidentally, this was a government the Liberals were part of, concludes Tybring-Gjedde.
Regarding the criticism from Melby, Sylvi Listhaug repeats the answer about Carl. In Hagen’s Facebook post. There she wrote, among other things, that the statements have no support in the party.
– There is no doubt about where the FRP stands on this matter. If Guri Melby had been following along, she would have seen that the FRP has put forward a wide range of proposals to help Ukraine with money, weapons and equipment. After Putin’s latest escalation, it is more important than ever that Norway and the international community support Ukraine, adds Listhaug.