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    Demonizing Putin and Russia Won't Solve Our Common Problems - Norwegian Activist

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    Denis Bolotsky
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    Norwegian peace activists are joining forces to protest against the upcoming "Trident Juncture 18" NATO maneuvers - the alliance's largest war games in history, which will be held next to Russia's borders. Sputnik sat down with Harald Reppesgaard, one of the organizers of the peace rally, in the city of Trondheim.

    Sputnik sat down with Harald Reppesgaard — one of the organizers of the peace rally in the city of Trondheim.

    Sputnik:  You organized a rally right before the upcoming NATO war games here in Trondheim. How important is the event?

    Harald Reppesgaard: Small groups started to work together after they launched the base in Vaernes with the US marines. Those people were very active in the 70s and 80s fighting for peace, to lower the tensions between NATO and the Soviet Union. Norway is the spearhead of NATO up in the north, so we are very exposed: if there should be a war, we will be very exposed to having the fight here, in this part of Europe.

    After some demonstrations last year, and later on, we found out that "Trident Juncture" will find a place here this autumn, and the same people said "we have to do something, we cannot sit down, be idle and not react, because this is making tension between Norway and Russia."  It escalates the problem and we have so many challenges and problems to solve — the Barents Sea, the gas and oil, the fisheries and everything, and actually to get good relations with Russia. But this escalation of weapons, of rhetoric, this demonization against Putin, Russia, and so on, will make the atmosphere between us very bad and we will not solve our common problems.

    READ MORE: What You Need to Know About Nuclear Arms Treaty With Russia Trump Wants to Quit

    Sputnik: There are many groups taking part in today's event. How did you manage to get them together?

    Harald Reppesgaard: We were about 5 or 6 persons and we made contact with other persons we knew. They were very interested in this work and then we invited organizations and left-wing parties (and also other parties, but they said "no", they were not interested), and the trade union here.

    READ MORE: Norwegian Peace Activists Gather to Say 'No' to NATO War Games (PHOTOS, VIDEO)

    During the spring and the summer, we had meetings and all those representatives said: "we are going for this". In the end, it was a lot of work, but they were loyal to our decisions and we cooperated very well. I think it's the first time that not only all those small peace groups are trying to work together, but also the left-wing parties.

    Sputnik: You've been with the peace movement for decades. Do the young people here in Norway show an interest in fighting for peace?

    Harald Reppesgaard: No. Maybe we haven't been clever enough to engage the youth in this work. But you may also remember that the mass media has done very little to tell and to show what the war really means. It's sort of a glamorous "play", and you see the youth today: to them war is a computer game, on the PC.

    Sputnik: But younger people also have access to the Internet, and all kinds of information and opinions are available to them. Why don't they learn from it?

    Harald Reppesgaard: I wish I knew the answer. I think it's very complex. I wonder what they learn at school about war, about the background and the reasons for war, what have they learned about World War II and so on. I think it's very little.

    Sputnik: Do you think that the lessons of World War II are being forgotten in Norway — not just by the younger generation, but by other generations as well?

    Harald Reppesgaard: Yes, I think so. But there are new books and articles being published now about different aspects of the Second World War — how some groups in Norway suffered, and so on.

    Sputnik: So, you think that there are attempts to "rewrite" history?

    Harald Reppesgaard: Yes, I think they are not teaching the youth why World War II started, and about the forces behind the war. They don't tell them about the enormous effort of the Soviet Union. Actually, the Soviet Union freed the northern part of Norway, and they don't teach us very much about that. All the movies, and so on, show that the great heroes were the Americans: the Americans are 'the good ones', the Germans are 'the bad ones', the Soviet Union — "yeah, OK, but without the Americans, we would have lost the war."  

    Sputnik: How would you describe the current situation?

    Harald Reppesgaard: I think we are in the middle of a new Cold War, and it started after the dismantling of the Soviet Union. Of course, [NATO] saw a big chance to expand to the east, and to explain [this] to Norway and other countries in Europe, they had to find 'the aggressor'. At first, they had to fight ISIS, but when ISIS [Daesh] didn't have so much power anymore — what did they do? Well, then they had to point at Russia. And that is all because of the military industrial complex in America. They want to produce weapons and sell weapons.

    The views and opinions expressed by Harald Reppesgaard are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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