Foreign policy and defense
Norway is a nation in Northern Europe. Its capital city is Oslo. Nordic cooperation is a cornerstone of Norwegian foreign policy. Norway has also profiled itself within the UN through working for the conditions of poor countries and fighting for the global environment. Norwegian diplomats have made efforts as mediators in several of the world’s conflicts, including in the Middle East. Norway is a member of NATO but is outside the EU.
Norway’s security and foreign policy significance in Northern Europe has diminished since the end of the Cold War, but at the same time Norway has played important mediating roles in international conflicts. Norwegian diplomats were behind the so-called Oslo agreement in 1993 on Palestinian autonomy in Israel-occupied West Bank and Gaza, and Norwegians have been active in peace efforts in, for example, Guatemala, the Philippines, Haiti, Sudan and Sri Lanka.
- Countryaah: Overview of business holidays and various national observances in Norway for years of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024 and 2025.
When Norway entered the Atlantic pact (NATO) in 1949, the country abandoned its traditional neutrality policy. But Norway, like Denmark, has reservations in its NATO membership: nuclear weapons must not be stationed on Norwegian soil in peacetime and foreign troops may not be permanently based in the country. Although Norway is not an EU member, the country participates in the EU’s Nordic rapid response force.
The EEA Agreement integrates the Norwegian economy into the EU’s internal market with the exception of the fisheries, agriculture and oil sectors. Norway pays to the EU budget as do the member states. As a result of the Nordic passport union, Norway is also associated with the EU’s border cooperation in the Schengen agreement.
Issues on the law of the sea central
Norway actively pursues maritime rights issues, particularly in the defense of its own fishing interests. The oil and gas resources also mean that the protection of Norwegian marine areas has become of great defense strategic and economic importance.
After the US withdrew its air force from Iceland, Norway signed an agreement on defense cooperation with Iceland in 2007. It aims to help Iceland assert its sovereignty in peacetime, even if Norwegian military or Norwegian combat aircraft are not permanently stationed in Iceland.
For a long time, Norway first negotiated with the Soviet Union and then with Russia on the distribution of a 155,000 square kilometer sea area in the Barents Sea. After 40 years of dispute, the border issue was resolved through agreements signed in 2010. In addition, the extraction of oil and gas, which is in the area, was regulated. In 2012, the two countries entered into an agreement to jointly search for oil and gas in the Barents Sea, but two years later, relations cooled down as a result of Russia’s annexation of the Crimean Peninsula in Ukraine and Russian involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. Norway responded by imposing trade sanctions on Moscow, which in turn responded with an import ban on certain Norwegian goods.
The dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 meant relaxation along the 20-mile land border between Norway and Russia. However, Norway has security policy agreements on reinforcements from other NATO countries in the event of a military threat. In the Russian Kola Peninsula, only a few miles from the Norwegian-Russian border, there is a large gathering of military forces and nuclear weapons.
Since 1992, Norway has an agreement on environmental cooperation with Russia. Norway has pursued extensive cooperation between the Nordic countries and Russia on the Northern Calotte and the Kola Peninsula, where polluting industrial emissions, nuclear waste and decommissioned nuclear submarines have been major problems.
Norway received criticism from several directions as the country continued to hunt for ceasefire despite the introduction of an international ban on whaling in 1982 (and entered into force in 1986). Norway’s argument for continued hunting was that the stock of whale selection was sufficient for sustainable hunting and that many Norwegian fishing communities depended on whaling for their livelihood. In 1993, Norway resumed commercial catching of creek whales and increased the quota in 2006 to over 1,000 whales, and almost 1,300 four years later.
The fight against terrorism
Norway supported the US war on terrorism after September 11, 2001 but did not support the US-led Iraq war in 2003. However, after the invasion, Norway sent engineering troops to Iraq to participate in the reconstruction of the country under UN mandate. In 2004, the Norwegian soldiers were taken home from Iraq, according to the government because they wanted to prioritize NATO operations in Afghanistan.
In 2012, the red-green government took home the troops from Afghanistan after gradually becoming more critical of the NATO-led operation. The bourgeois government again sent troops to Afghanistan in 2015 to train the Afghan forces. Following an appeal from the Baghdad government in October 2014, Norway sent 120 non-combatants to Iraq to support the country in the fight against the Islamic State (IS) extremist movement.
The government experienced a foreign policy crisis in 2006, after a religious Norwegian magazine printed some of the Muhammad cartoons previously published by the Danish Jutland Post. This led to protests and acts of violence against Norwegians and Norwegian interests in several Muslim countries. In 2008, a suicide attack was directed at a hotel in Kabul, Afghanistan, where the Norwegian Foreign Minister was then. The minister escaped unharmed but six people were killed.
Norway experienced problems with relations with China in 2010, after the parliamentary Nobel Committee awarded the imprisoned Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo the peace prize. The Beijing regime prevented Norwegian diplomats from visiting Liu’s wife and suspended or postponed official visits between the countries. In 2016, relations were normalized when China and Norway agreed to start free trade talks.
The defense is based on NATO membership
After the end of the Cold War, Norway, like other NATO countries, and Sweden, has reduced the defense organization. However, the defense budget has remained at about the same level as before. At the same time, the priorities have changed from a defense against a supposed Russian invasion to more agile troops for international operations.
Together with Sweden, Finland, Ireland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, Norway participates in the EU rapid response force Nordic Battlegroup, which will primarily assist the Union in humanitarian efforts.
Norway still has general military duty. Since January 2015, it also applies to women. The Norwegians do the military service for twelve months at the age of 19.
FACTS – DEFENSE
Army: 9 350 men (2017)
The air Force: 3,600 men (2017)
The fleet: 4,300 men (2017)
Military expenditure’s share of GDP: 1.6 percent (2017)
Military spending’s share of the state budget: 3.4 percent (2017)
Setback for Socialist Left Party
In the local elections, the small government party Socialist Venstre goes back sharply and loses half of its voters. The reason is believed to be that the party has been forced to make serious compromises in government cooperation. The result is considered to weaken the entire government coalition.
Norsk Hydro and Statoil merge
Norsk Hydro’s oil and gas operations are merged with Statoil. As a result, one of the world’s largest companies with oil and gas operations is formed at sea.
New leader of the Progress Party
Siv Jensen is elected new leader of the Progress Party. She replaces Carl I Hagen, who has led the immigration-critical party since 1978.
Headwind for the Progress Party
The immigration-critical Progress Party becomes, in an opinion poll, Norway’s largest party with 32 percent of the vote, against 27 percent for the Labor Party.