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Norway - Relations

08.12.2014

(last updated: 22.08.2014)


The Kingdom of Norway recognised the Republic of Estonia de jure on 5 February 1921. Norway never recognised the illegal annexation of the Baltic states by the Soviet Union and after the Second World War some Estonian honorary consulates in Norway continued functioning. Diplomatic relations were re-established on 27 August 1991. In the autumn of 1991, Norway opened its Embassy in Tallinn and Brit Løvseth arrived as the first ambassador. Current Norwegian Ambassador Lise Nicoline Grevstad presented her credentials to President Toomas Hendrik Ilves on 17 September 2010.

In February 1994, Estonia opened its embassy in Oslo under the direction of Chargé d'Affaires a.i. Tiit Naber. From 1997 to 2000, Enno Turmen worked as the Chargé d'Affaires a.i. in Oslo, while Ambassador Jüri Kahn resided in Copenhagen. Since 2000, the Estonia Ambassador has resided in Oslo. From 2000-2004, the Estonian ambassador in Norway was Peep Jahilo, from September 2004 until July 2008 the ambassador was Juhan Haravee. From January 2009 until July 2012 the Estonian ambassador was Arti Hilpus. Currently the Estonian ambassador to Norway is Simmu Tiik, who presented his credentials to King of Norway Harald V on 6 September 2012.

Estonia is also represented in Norway by five honorary consuls - Trond Bernhard Brekke in Trondheim, Per Trygve Kongsnes in Tromsø, Reidar and Oscar Maaseide in Stavanger, and Eivind Lund in Krisiansand.

Visits

To Estonia
October 2011 Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg
September 2008 Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre
November 2007 President of the Parliament Thorbjørn Jagland
October 2002 Foreign Minister Jan Petersen
February 2002 Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik
October 1999 President of the Parliament Kirsti Kolle Grøndal
August 1998 State visit of King of Norway Harald V and Queen Sonja
April 1998 Foreign Minister Knut Vollebæk
January 1997 Foreign Minister Bjørn Tore Godal
November 1996 Prime Minister Thorbjørn Jagland
June 1995 Princess of Norway Märtha Louise at the opening of the Keila SOS children's village

 

To Norway
August 2010 Foreign Minister Urmas Paet
March 2006 Foreign Minister Urmas Paet
February 2005 Prime Minister Juhan Parts
July 2004 Minister of Defence Margus Hanson
September 2002 Minister of Regional Affairs Toivo Asmer
April 2002 President Arnold Rüütel
September 2001 Minister of Culture Signe Kivi
October 2000 Foreign Minister Toomas Hendrik Ilves
June 1998 Prime Minister Mart Siimann
April 1997 Foreign Minister Toomas Hendrik Ilves
March 1996 Chairman of the Riigikogu Toomas Savi

 

Bilateral Relations

Relations between Estonia and Norway are characterised by close co-operation in the areas of economy, culture and defence. The traditionally good relations with Norway are reflected by, among other things, the considerable volume of bilateral trade. Since the 1990s, Norwegian investments into Estonia have been growing steadily. The making of bilateral contacts was simplified by the direct flight between Tallinn and Oslo opened in August 2003. Currently three different airlines operate direct flights between Tallinn and Oslo. In addition, Estonian Air flies to Trondheim as well. Bilateral visa freedom between Estonia and Norway has been in effect since 1 May 1997. Since 21 December 2007 when Estonia joined the Schengen Visa Area Estonians also have the opportunity to move without visas all over that area, including to Norway,

At the international level Norway repeatedly expressed its support for Estonia’s aspirations to accede to NATO and the EU. When Estonia was preparing for membership, Norway assisted Estonia in formulating its national action plans for the Estonian Membership Action Plan. Norway was the first country that ratified the Protocol of the Accession of Estonia to NATO in April 2003. Estonia's relations with Norway in the framework of the Council of the Baltic Sea States, as well as in the co-operation of the Baltic and Nordic countries, are notably extensive and diverse. The relations have become even closer and more dynamic after Estonia's accession to the European Union and to the Nordic Investment Bank (01.01.2005).

Defence Co-operation

In 1995 the framework agreement for bilateral defence co-operation between Estonia and Norway was signed. Norway has rendered assistance in the co-ordination and development of several co-operation projects in the field of defence (BALTDEFCOL, BALTNET, BALTRON). The first Estonian peacekeepers got their training in Norway’s peacekeeping company and, from 1996-1997, their baptism by fire in the ranks of Norway’s peacekeeping forces in Lebanon. After Estonia’s accession to NATO the main focus of defence-related co-operation shifted to co-operation within NATO. Keywords in this context are Norway’s participation in Baltic air policing, co-operation in training, joint training projects, logistics, and defence policy consultations. Bilateral political-military negotiations also take place on a regular basis.

Practical defence-related co-operation with Norway also takes place in the NB8 format (Baltic + Nordic countries). The countries also jointly participate in the EU Nordic Battle Group.

The Estonian defence attaché in Norway since August 2010 is Lieutenant Colonel Toomas Peda, who resides in Copenhagen. Norway’s defence attaché in Estonia (also in Latvia and Lithuania) is Colonel Britt T.B. Brestrup, who resides in Riga.

Finance mechanisms

Norway has provided foreign aid to Central and East European countries since 1992. Among major aid projects to Estonia, one could list supporting for the construction of the new terminal of Tallinn Airport, environmental co-operation with AS Eesti Veevärk, and a project of the Nordic countries co-ordinated by the UN Development Programme for the integration of the Russian-speaking population into Estonian society. In the framework of bilateral co-operation the conservation of the Sillamäe radioactive waste depository has been carried out.

One important instrument of bilateral relations is the EMP/Norway support system. Since 1 May 2004, Estonia and other countries that acceded to the EU have had the opportunity within the framework of the EEA agreement (European Economic Area) and the Norwegian financial mechanism to apply for project-based support for five years. The volume of funds foreseen for Estonia was 30 million EUR within a 5-year implementation period (2004-2009). Most preferred were projects in such fields as the environment, cultural heritage (including manor schools in Väätsa, Puurmani, Laupa, Koigi, Olustvere, Kiltsi, Kõpu, Rogosi and Vasta), health care, and regional policy.

Beween 2007-2011 Estonia received about 479 million kroons (ca 30,6 million euros).

 

Economic Relations

Estonia and Norway have signed all major economic agreements: Agreement on the Mutual Promotion and Protection of Investments, Convention for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with Respect to Taxes on Income and on Capital, Air Services Agreement and Agreement concerning International Road Transport. As of 1 May 2004, Estonia-Norway trade relations are regulated by the European Economic Area Agreement (EAA).

In 1930, Estonia acceded to the Spitsbergen agreement, which is currently still in force. The agreement states the conditions for the usage of Spitsbergen by the signatories of the agreement.

TRADE

Norway is an essential export nation for Estonia, and our trade balance with them is strongly positive. The value of exports in 2012 was 421.9 million EUR, which placed Norway in 8th place among Estonia’s export partners (export increased by 16.7% compared to 2011).

The value of imports was 183.7 million EUR, which was 29% more than in 2011. In terms of imports, Norway was 17th among Estonia’s partners. The trade balance was positive for Estonia by 171.5 million EUR.
 

Estonia-Norway trade 2005-2012 (million EUR):

Year Export % of total export Import % of total import Balance
2005 178.3 2.9 63.2 0.8 115.0
2006 204.4 2.7 67.2 0.6 137.2
2007 271.0 3.4 69.7 0.6 201.2
2008 279.9 3.4 74.0 0.7 205.9
2009 205.8 3.2  94.4 1.3 111.4
2010 300.0 3.4 128.5 1.4 171.5
2011 360.8 3.0 141.9 1.1 218.9
2012 419.7 3.4 182.5 1.3 237.2

   

Major export articles in 2012:

  • Other manufactured goods – 27.3%
  • Timber and timber products – 18.1%
  • Machinery and equipment – 14.7%
  • Metals and metal products – 8.1%

Major import articles in 2012:

  • Machinery and equipment –  55.2%
  • Mineral products – 12.1%
  • Means of transport – 6.4%
  • Metals and metal products – 4.9%

All economic figures originate from the Statistical Office of Estonia

INVESTMENTS

According to data from the Bank of Estonia, as of 31 December 2012 Norwegian investments valuing 675.2 million euros had been made in Estonia, which makes up 4.7% of the total value of investments made in Estonia. This placed Norway in 4th place among foreign investors in Estonia.

Direct investments from Norway are primarily made in wholesale and retail trade (29% of investments), professional, research and technical activity (24.2%), the manufacturing industry (17.1%), and the electric and gas sector (16.2%).

The companies in Estonia with the greatest Norwegian involvement are Eesti Merelaevandus AS, Eesti Statoil AS, Kalev Chocolate Factory, Viru-Nigula Windfarm OÜ, Aseriaru Windfarm, Kawe Group AS, Tallinor OÜ, Pakri Windfarm OÜ, Vanaküla Windfarm OÜ, Tooma Windfarm OÜ, Selvaag Eesti OÜ, and Estonian Media AS. At the end of 2012, the Estonia Business Registry counted over 450 companies in Estonia with Norwegian involvement.

Among countries where Estonia has direct investments, Norway ranks 13th, with investments totalling 36.5 million euros as of 31 December 2012 (0.8% of total direct investments).

TOURISM

The number of overnight stays by Norwegian tourists has stabilised in the last few years.  In 2010 Estonian accommodation establishments were used by over 40 000 Norwegians; in 2009 the number was nearly 41 000, and in 2008 the number of tourists was over 47 000. In 2011, 51 500 Norwegian tourists used Estonian accommodation establishments and in the 2012 the total was 48 500.

Culture and Education

Worth mentioning among Estonia’s and Norway’s close communication in the sphere of culture are the reciprocal visits and frequent performances of singing choirs, dance ensembles, delegations of friendship towns and counties.

Starting in 2007, annual Norwegian Days have taken place in Tallinn, organised by the Norwegian Embassy. Within the framework of the event there are exhibits, concerts, seminars, charity events, introductions to Norwegian food and customs, and much more.
Estonia introduces itself in Norway through many cultural events, including the celebration of its Independence Day.

In Norway there is an active Norwegian Estonian Society that primarily brings together Norwegians interested in Estonia. The society regularly publishes the newsletter Estlands-nytt. In honour of the 25th anniversary of the society in the fall of 2010, the comprehensive anthology Estland og Norge i fortid og nåtid (Estonia and Norway Then and Now) was published.

Estonians living in Norway meet at the Estonian Society in Norway. The NGO Friends of Norway functioning in Estonia unites in its turn Estonians deeply interested in Norway and the Norwegian culture.

MUSIC, THEATRE, FILM

Famous performers such as pianist Sigurd Slåttebrekk, violinist Henning Kraggerud, Trio Mediaeval, the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Bergen Symphony Orchestra have come from Norway to give concerts in Estonia. Estonian musicians have also performed at various festivals in Norway. In September 2009 an Arvo Pärt music week took place in Stanvanger, and in May 2010 Tõnis Mägi gave a concert in Stavanger.

The young Norwegian pianist Leif Ove Andsnes has performed on world stages under the baton of conductor Neeme Järvi. Ballet dancer and choreographer Teet Kask worked for many years in the Norwegian National Ballet.

The biggest event in cultural relations in 2012 was the concert by the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir conducted by Daniel Reuss on 15 March at the Oslo Dome Church within the framework of the International Church Music Festival. The main component of the programme was Arvo Pärt’s a cappella piece for choir “Kanon pokajanen”, which has a rather exotic effect and was well-received by the audience. The concert was performed to a full house.

EDUCATION, LANGUAGE, LITERATURE, ART

Norway has supported the construction of Tartu University’s language building, and supports the instruction of Norwegian language and literature at the University as well. Norwegian can also be taken as a minor subject at Tallinn University. A co-operation agreement has been signed between Tartu University’s history and philosophy department and Oslo University’s language department.

In 2005, the reprint of Norwegian-Estonian/Estonian-Norwegian Dictionary published in 1998 appeared. Translations from Estonian into Norwegian have mainly been made by Turid Farbregd, a Norwegian Estophile living and working in Finland. For example the translations of works by Jaan Kross and Viivi Luik have been made by Turid Farbregd. Those projects have been financially supported by Norway. A great number of examples of Norwegian literature (H. Ibsen, S. Undset, B. Bjørnson, K. Hamsun, and others) and travelogues (F. Nansen, T. Heyerdahl)have been translated into Estonian. The most prolific translators have been Adelaida Lemberg, Henrik Sepamaa, Arvo-Jürgen Alas, and Elvi Lumet. The latter was the first Estonian to receive the Norwegian State Award, St. Olaf’s Medal.

Art scholar Jaan Kangliaski worked in Norway on two occasions and shared his impressions with Estonian readers in the book “Norway – Country, People, Art” (1985, 2nd print 2000).

In 2006, the international year of Ibsen was celebrated in Estonia with an exhibit dedicated to the topics of Ibsen’s works at the National Library.

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