Foreign policy and defense
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.
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
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
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
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
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
9 350 men (2017)
The air Force
3,600 men (2017)
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.