The foreign relations of Norway are based on the country's membership in NATO and within the workings of the United Nations (UN). Additionally, despite not being a member of the European Union (EU), Norway takes part in the integration of EU through its membership in the European Economic Area. Norway's foreign ministry includes both the minister of foreign affairs and minister of international development.


The Ministry of Foreign Affairs was established on the same day that Norway declared the dissolution of the union with Sweden: June 7, 1905. Although diplomats could not present credentials to foreign governments until the Swedish king formally renounced his right to the Norwegian throne, a number of unofficial representatives worked on the provisional government's behalf until the first Norwegian ambassador, Hjalmar Christian Hauge, sought accreditation by the United States Secretary of State Elihu Root on November 6, 1905.

The initial purposes of the newly formed Foreign Ministry were to represent Norway's interests through diplomatic channels, and to provide consular services for Norwegian shipping and commerce overseas. In 1906, the Storting decided to establish six embassies in Europe, with two more in the Americas: one in the United States and one in Argentina. 20 consular offices were also opened.

During World War I, the foreign ministry was confronted with unprecedented challenges in maintaining neutrality for Norway, in particular in order to protect its merchant fleet.

In 1922, the ministry was consolidated and reorganised to ensure fuller cooperation between the diplomatic and consular branches. The reorganization included the formation of a designated career path for diplomats that included completion of a university entrance examination and professional experience from international trade. The economic hardship of the times forced austerity measures at the ministry for the next several years.

When Norway was invaded by Nazi Germany in 1940, the government fled to the United Kingdom and reconstituted in exile in Bracknell, outside London. Kingston House in London was later used. The government moved back to Norway following the peace in 1945.

After the end of World War II, Norway was a founding member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the United Nations, the latter having Norwegian Trygve Lie as inaugural Secretary-General.

Elements of policy

Since the end of the Cold War, Norway has developed a model to foreign policy known as the "Norwegian model," the goal of which is to contribute to peace and stability through coordinated response among governmental and non-governmental Norwegian organizations; acting as an honest broker in international conflicts; an informal network of Norwegian individuals with access and credibility among parties; and the willingness to take the long view in international issues.

The post-war foreign policy of Norway can be described along four dimensions:

Strategic alliances

Norway's strategic importance for waging war in the North Atlantic became important in the failed neutrality policy of World War II. Norway became a founding member of NATO in order to ally itself with countries that shared its democratic values. Both through diplomatic and military cooperation, Norway has played a visible role in the formation and operations of NATO. It allowed a limited number of military bases and exercises to be based in its territories, which caused some controversy when NATO decided to put forward bases in Northern Norway in preparation for a conflict with the Soviet Union.

International cooperation

Norway supports international cooperation and the peaceful settlement of disputes, recognizing the need for maintaining a strong national defence through collective security. Accordingly, the cornerstones of Norwegian policy are active membership in NATO and support for the United Nations and its specialized agencies. Norway also pursues a policy of economic, social, and cultural cooperation with other Nordic countries—Denmark, Sweden, Finland, and Iceland—through the Nordic Council. Its relations with Iceland are very close due to the cultural bond the two nations share. Norway ended a 2-year term on the UN Security Council in January 2003, and chaired the Iraq Sanctions Committee.

Norway is the only Scandinavian country that is not a member of the European Union. Membership has been proposed within Norway, and referendums over Norwegian membership were held in 1972 and 1994. Popular opinion was split between rural and urban areas. See Norway and the European Union.

The present government is not planning to raise the possibility for future membership.

Norway also has a history of co-operation and friendship with the United Kingdom and Scotland, due to their shared cultural heritage since Viking times. The Vikings conquered areas including the Hebrides, Orkney and Shetland for several hundred years. Norway is only 300 kilometres (159 Nautical miles) east of Unst, the northernmost island of Shetland. The Norwegian embassy to the United Kingdom is located in London, and Norway also maintains a Consulate General in Edinburgh. A Norway Spruce is given by the city of Oslo and presented to London as a Christmas tree for display in Trafalgar Square as a token of gratitude for the UK's support during World War II. King Haakon, his son Crown Prince Olav and the country's government lived in exile in London throughout the war. As part of the tradition, the Lord Mayor of Westminster visits Oslo in the late autumn to take part in the felling of the tree, and the Mayor of Oslo then goes to London to light the tree at the Christmas ceremony.

International mediation

Norway has played an active role as a third party mediator in a number of international conflicts. The late foreign minister Johan Jørgen Holst was instrumental in forging the Oslo Accords between Israel and the PLO. Thorvald Stoltenberg was part of the unsuccessful mediation team in seeking an end to the war in Bosnia. Norway has contributed both mediation services and financial assistance in Guatemala.

As of 2005, Norwegian diplomats are acting as mediators in Sudan, Bosnia, Sri Lanka, and Colombia. Some of those countries accuse Norway of supporting and propping up separatist groups. Israel is often bitter with harsh criticisms from Norwegian politicians. The spat was at its highest when finance minister Kristin Halvorsen supported boycott of Israeli goods.[1] in early 2006. Finance ministry spokesman, Runar Malkenes, told the BBC News website that "there are no moves to push for a boycott of Israeli goods" at government level.[2] Eritrea has been actively supported by Norway during its liberation from Ethiopia.[3] As of recent, Ethiopia expelled six Norwegian diplomats due to Norway's alleged support to 'Terrorist group and Eritrea'.[4] Norway retaliated by cutting aid to Ethiopia.

International disputes

Territorial claims in Antarctica (Queen Maud Land and Peter I Island) are only recognized by Australia, France, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.


A number of scholars have argued that Norway has through its foreign policy engaged in status-seeking.[5][6] Through an activist foreign policy, Norway has sought to elevate its standing among the international system's small powers and middle powers, and earn recognition from the great powers.[5][6]

Bilateral Relations

Country Formal Relations Began Notes
 Armenia June 5, 1992
  • Armenia is represented in Norway through its embassy in Kopenhagen (Denmark).
  • Norway has an honorary consulate in Yerevan.
  • Approximately 2,000 Armenians live in Norway.
 Belize August 20, 1906

Since 2011, Belize and Norway have an Agreement concerning the exchange of information relating to tax matters they had signed in 2010.[7]

 Bulgaria August 20, 1906
 Canada See Canada–Norway relations
 China See China–Norway relations
  • China has an embassy in Oslo.[12]
  • Norway has an embassy in Beijing and consulates-general in Guangzhou and Shanghai.[13]
 Croatia See Croatia–Norway relations
  • Croatia has an embassy in Oslo.
  • Norway has an embassy in Zagreb.
 Cyprus See Cyprus–Norway relations

Cyprus-Norway relations are foreign relations between Cyprus and Norway.[citation needed] Diplomatic relations were established on March 22, 1963.[14] The government in Cyprus considers that "bilateral relations between Cyprus and Norway are excellent in all fields".[15]

Neither country has resident ambassadors. Cyprus is represented in Norway through its embassy in Stockholm, Sweden and 2 honorary consulates, one in Oslo and the second in Kristiansand. Norway is represented in Cyprus through its embassy in Athens, Greece and an honorary consulate in Nicosia.[16] Both countries are full members of the Council of Europe.[15]

On August 21, 1951 there was a Consular Convention and an Exchange of Letters relating to establishing diplomatic relations. On May 2, 1951 there was a Convention for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with respect to Taxes on Income. On May 17, 1962 there was an Exchange of Letters constituting an Agreement on the Abolition of Visa Requirement in Nicosia. On March 5, 1963 there was an Agreement on Commercial Scheduled Air Transport signed in London.[17]

Norway provides direct funding to the Cypriot Government and also to local authorities, NGOs and educational institutions through EEA and Norway Grants.[18] The NGO Fund in Cyprus is co-financed by the European Economic Area (EEA) Financial Mechanism and the Norwegian Financial Mechanism. It was established in 2004.[19] In 2006, Norway increased its commitment to offer a total contribution of 4.66 million euros.[19] In 2007 a delegation from the EEA and Norway Grants went to Cyprus to "monitor the spending of Norwegian funds given to Cyprus as part of the European Economic Area."[20] In 2008 Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre traveled to Cyprus to meet President Demetris Christofias. They met to discuss Norway's assistance to the Cypriot village of Salamiou, in Paphos. The Norwegians plan to rebuild an old elementary school in the village. It will then become a Regional Centre for Environmental Education at the cost of €735,000.[21]

The taxation levels in Cyprus are considerably lower than in Norway, and Cyprus has actively courted Norwegians to move to Cyprus.[22] Among the Norwegians who moved to Cyprus is the shipping billionaire John Fredriksen, who was the richest man in Norway.[23][24][25]

In 1996 tax rules in Norway were changed to keep shipping companies competitive and under the Norwegian flag. By 2008 changes to the tonnage tax regime to harmonize them with the European Union forced some companies to register in Cyprus.[26] Norwegian Service rig company Prosafe moved their headquarters to Cyprus.[27]

Several Norwegian retirees also moved to Cyprus; this too is largely to benefit from the lower tax rate on Cyprus and the minimal crime.[28][29] The Norwegian colony on Cyprus is in Paphos.[29]

 Denmark See Denmark–Norway relations

Both countries have a very long history together, both countries were part of the Kalmar Union between 1397 and 1523. Norway was in Union with Denmark between 1537 and 1814. Both countries established diplomatic relations in 1905, after Norway's independence. Both countries are full members of the Council of the Baltic Sea States, of NATO, and of the Council of Europe. There are around 15,000 Norwegian people living in Denmark and around 20,000 Danish people living in Norway.[32]

  • Estonia has an embassy in Oslo.[35]
  • Norway has an embassy in Tallinn.[36]
 Finland See Finland–Norway relations
 Greece See Greece–Norway relations
  • Greece has an embassy in Oslo.[39]
  • Norway has an embassy in Athens.[31]
 Guyana 1979

Both countries established diplomatic relations on 2 August 1979.[40]

 Holy See 1982 Usually sideaccredited: Stockholm (nuntius) and Bern.
 Iceland See Iceland–Norway relations

In 2007, the two countries signed a defense agreement, covering surveillance and military defense of Icelandic air space and economic zone. It means that Norwegian jet fighters and surveillance aircraft will be patrolling Icelandic air space. It is underlined that the agreement with Norway only covers peace time. In case of a military conflict it is still NATO and the United States Government that will carry the main responsibility for Iceland's defense.[41] The agreement was signed following the decision to pullout US military from the Keflavík naval air base.[42]

  • Iceland has an embassy in Oslo.[43]
  • Norway has an embassy in Reykjavík.[44]
  • Ireland has an embassy in Oslo.[48]
  • Norway has an embassy in Dublin.[49]
 Israel See Israel–Norway relations

Norway was one of the first countries to recognize Israel on February 4, 1949. Both countries established diplomatic relation later that year.

 Kosovo See Kosovo–Norway relations

Norway recognized Kosovo on March 28, 2008.[52] Norway has an embassy in Pristina, while Kosovo has hinted that it will include Norway in the second wave of embassy openings.

 Macedonia 1993

Both countries established diplomatic relations in 1993.[53]

 Mexico 1906 See Mexico–Norway relations
 Morocco See Morocco-Norway relations
  • Morocco has an embassy in Oslo.
  • Norway has an embassy in Rabat.
   Nepal January 26, 1973 See Nepal–Norway relations

Diplomatic relations were established on January 26, 1973. Norway established an embassy in Kathmandu in 2000.[56] Norway's aid to Nepal was around 2 million NOK in 2008. Norwegian aid prioritizes education, good governance and energy.[citation needed] In 2008, Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg and Minister of the Environment and International Development Erik Solheim visited Nepal.[57] In 2009, Prime Minister Prachanda visited Norway.[58] In May 2008, a small bomb exploded outside the Norwegian embassy in Kathmandu. No one was injured.[59][60]

  • Netherlands has an embassy in Oslo.
  • Norway has an embassy in The Hague.
 North Korea See Foreign relations of North Korea
 New Zealand 1905 See New Zealand–Norway relations

Both countries established diplomatic relations in 1905, after Norway's independence. There are approximately 1,400 Norwegians living in New Zealand and 409 New Zealanders living in Norway.[61]

Reidar Sveaas, director of P&O Maritime Ltd. and honorary consul to Auckland said in 2000 that excellent opportunities existed for New Zealand to trade with the world's second largest oil-producing country, Norway.[62]

New Zealand joined 11 other countries in 2006 in delivering a formal diplomatic protest to the Norwegian Foreign Ministry in Oslo over Norway's plans to increase its whaling activities.[63]

In 2004 Helen Clark, became the first New Zealand prime minister to ever visit Norway. She said that both countries see eye-to-eye on almost everything but the commercial harvesting of whales.[64]

 Pakistan See Norway-Pakistan relations

Pakistan and Norway have friendly ties. Norway and Pakistan ties date back to the 1980s, the Pakistani community is the largest foreign immigrant community in Norway.

  • Norway has an embassy in Islamabad.
  • Pakistan has an embassy in Oslo.

A Palestinian representation in Oslo has had status of "general delegation". In December 2010 during a visit to Norway Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad announced that this mission would be upgraded to a diplomatic mission. This will take effect early in 2011. With the rank of ambassador its head will have the title "head of the Palestinian mission". Norway thus becomes the fourth European country to take similar steps, following Spain, France and Portugal. The upgrade does not constitute recognition of a Palestinian state by Norway, however.[67]

 Philippines March 2, 1948 See Norway–Philippines relations

Relations between the Philippines and Norway were established on March 2, 1948, the Philippines has an embassy in Oslo while Norway has an embassy in Manila. Norway is also involved in the peace process in the Philippines related to Moro and Communist insurgencies and is also a member country of the International Monitoring Team for the GPH-MILF Peace Process. Norway is also the third country facilitator for the GPH-CPP-NPA-NDF Peace Process. Trade between the Philippines and Norway amounted up to $73 million.[68][69][70]

 Romania April 3, 1917 See Norway–Romania relations
  • The two countries established formal relations in 1917-04-03
  • Norway has an embassy in Bucharest.[71]
  • Romania has an embassy in Oslo.[72]
  • Both countries are full members of NATO and of the Council of Europe.
 Russia October 30, 1905 See Norway–Russia relations
 Serbia See Norway–Serbia relations
 South Korea March 2, 1959[78]
 Sweden 1905 See Norway-Sweden relations

Both nations established diplomatic relations in 1905, after the dissolution of the union between Norway and Sweden in 1905.


In March 2012 the Norwegian Foreign Ministry announced that the Norwegian embassy in Damascus will be temporarily closed, mainly due to the deteriorating security situation in the country, however Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre also emphasized the closing being a political signal. One Norwegian diplomat will remain, stationed at the Danish embassy.[84] Norway has been aligned with the Western nations' criticism of the Assad government and with allegations from human rights organizations of violence against protesters from the military and security forces.

 Ukraine 1992 See Norway–Ukraine relations
 United Kingdom 1905 See Norway–United Kingdom relations
  • The two countries established formal relations in 1905 when Norway became independent.
  • Norway has an embassy in London.[87]
  • United Kingdom has an embassy in Oslo.[88]
 United States See Norway–United States relations
  • Norway has an embassy in Washington, DC and consulates-general in Houston, New York City and San Francisco.[89]
  • United States has an embassy in Oslo.[90]
  • See also: Norwegian American

See also


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Further reading

  • Holst, Johan Jørgen, ed. Norwegian Foreign Policy in the 1980s (Oxford UP, 1985).
  • Riste, Olav. "The historical determinants of Norwegian foreign policy." in J. J. Holst, ed. Norwegian Foreign Policy in the 1980s (1985): 12-26.
  • Salmon, Patrick. Scandinavia and the Great Powers 1890-1940 (2002) excerpt

External links