Home : News, Issues, & Analysis : Middle East Peace Reports : V3[34] March 18, 2002

March 18, 2002 ~ Vol. 3 Issue 34

No Oslo Accord With Penguins: Norway played a key role in helping broker the Oslo Accords between Israel and the Palestinians in the early 1990s, but it seems to take a much dimmer view of moves that would grant independence to penguins living under its control. Amazing, but true—the Norwegian Justice Ministry has formally rejected independence for one of the world's most remote islands and the liberation of penguins. The demands came from a group calling itself the Norwegian Support Group for the Liberation of Bouvet Island, inhabited largely by seals and penguins but no humans. Norway claimed the 22.4-square-mile Antarctic island in 1927. The group also demanded the release of penguins in zoos and decent burial for a stuffed one in a museum. Justice Ministry senior official Morten Ruud conceded that he didn't know anything about the group's background. "Obviously it's a joke," he said. "But if someone takes the trouble to write a funny letter, I must be allowed to write a funny one back." In his two-page response, Ruud said he could not grant independence partly because the group claimed to represent only the penguins, the island's minority population when compared with seals. "There is also a strong form of local democracy," he wrote, since the majority seals routinely chase the minority penguins to less desirable real estate. Ruud also said penguins held in Norway did not come from Bouvet Island and were not represented by the group. (AP, 3/11/02)

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