Says to Norwegian national broadcaster they did not know of the conflict -and that they will never trade with Western Sahara again.
Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation
November 9th 2007
See story here (Norwegian).
Firm receives heavy criticism for trade in occupied Western Sahara
The company Arnesen Shipbrokers, based in Farsund, Norway, in July this year transported phosphates form the harbour of the capital of Western Sahara, El Aaiun.
The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs discourages trade with the desert country, because it is the occupying country Morocco which earns on the trade.
Member of the Norwegian Parliament's Foreign Committee, Mrs. Anne Margrethe Larsen from the Liberal Party in Vest-Agder county, is critical to the company that shipped phosphates form the occupied country, in violation of the Norwegian guidelines.
“The conflict between Western Sahara and Morocco is one of the forgotten conflicts in the world, but with an unbelievable amount of suffering”, says Larsen.
Must follow Ministry's guidelines
The phosphates, which are used as fertilizers in agriculture, were transported from Western Sahara to Lithuania. Lithuania is one of the world's biggest importers of phosphates from Western Sahara. The local population wants the trade to stop, because they see it as a robbery of the country's natural resources.
Suppression, torture and massive control of the local population are part of the day-to-day life in what is considered Africas last colony.
“I believe it is correct of this and other companies to review their policies, and follow the guidelines from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs”, says Larsen.
Did not know about the conflict
CEO of Arnesen Shiprokers, Roger Arnesen, does not want to give an interview to NRK, but says in a comment that he did not know about the problems in Western Sahara, nor the Norwegian government's position when it comes to trade with the country.
“It is important for all serious firms who trade abroad to have knowledge of the fact that Norway discourages trade with this country. They have to take this seriously”, says Larsen.
Must be clearer
Roger Arnesen in Arnesen Shipbrokers says the Ministry must be clearer on stating with which countries they discourage trade. He says the company will not longer return to Western Sahara.
Parliamentarian Larsen agrees with the fact that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is not clear enough. She will now raise the Western Sahara issue in the Norwegian Parliament to ask Norway to be clearer in its position vis-à-vis Morocco.
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