nORWAY pm Jonas Gahr Støre  Finance Minister Trygve Slagsvold Vedum
Norway's Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre, and Finance Minister Trygve Slagsvold Vedum, right, present the political agreement on the Ukraine programme, with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy participation via video link, at the Norwegian parliament, in Oslo, Thursday, Feb. 16, 2023. Image Credit: AP

Oslo: Norwegian parties on Thursday backed an aid package worth 75 billion Norwegian kroner ($7.4 billion) for Ukraine to be spread out over five years.

All parties in the Storting, Norway’s parliament, backed the plan that the centre-left government first presented on February 6 apart from Rodt (The Red Party), a small far-left grouping.

The plan pledges 15 billion kroner annually in civilian and military aid between 2023 and 2027.

The broad consensus means the funds will continue to flow regardless of the political makeup of the government that emerges from Norway’s parliamentary elections scheduled for 2025.

“Now you’re setting a very important precedent for long-term financial support to a country that defends its independence and the right of every nation to live in accordance with generally recognised international norms”, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told MPs via a video link.

Most Norwegian parties also approved the government’s proposal to increase aid to developing countries most affected by the war in Ukraine by 5 billion kroner, in particular because of the increase in food prices.

Following Russia’s attack of Ukraine, Norway rose to become Europe’s main supplier of natural gas, and has thus benefitted from soaring prices - sometimes earning it the label of “war profiteer”.

“This is a notion I categorically reject,” Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store told AFP in an interview at the end of January.

The aid package was named after Fridtjof Nansen, a famous Norwegian polar explorer and diplomat (1861-1930) who spearheaded humanitarian assistance to the USSR during the devastating famine of the early 1920s.

These efforts, together with his work for displaced people during World War I, earned Nansen the Nobel Peace Prize in 1922.