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Europe: New Defense Block Emerging In The North

Copenhagen, 12 November 1996 (RFE/RL) - Norwegian Prime Minister Thorbjoern Jagland says Norway will push for the establishment of a new foreign policy and security entity in Northern Europe.

Norway, which this week takes the rotating presidency of the Nordic Council, wants to establish a common Nordic peace-keeping entity and to strengthen cooperation in foreign and security issues with its neighbors.

Addressing the Council's 48th session in Copenhagen yesterday, Jagland said current plans to enlarge the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and the European Union (EU) give Northern Europe a special place as it borders on both Russia and the three Baltic Republics. But a split between the conservative and the more left-of-center factions of the Nordic Council also emerged at the Copenhagen summit.

The conservatives want to make support for the Baltic republics, including for their declared wish to join NATO, an official government policy of all five Nordic Council States. The social democrats do not consider NATO enlargement a purely Baltic question.

In a carefully worded statement, Danish Prime Minister Poul Nyrup Rasmussen emphasized that his government will want to preserve strong American participation in the NATO-enlargement decision-making process.