Norway Geopolitics (2016)

By | December 17, 2021

Norway is one of the largest countries in the world for oil and gas exports, a characteristic that underpins its geopolitical relevance in macroeconomic and strategic terms. After Russia, in fact, the country is the largest energy supplier of gas and oil to the European Union (EU), and the fifth largest trading partner. Oslo’s foreign relations are highly developed with the other Scandinavian states, also thanks to the Nordic Council, a cooperation forum that includes Denmark, Finland, Sweden and even Iceland. Relations with EU, albeit marked by historic conflicts, continue to be vital to the Norwegian foreign policy, and, thanks to their participation to the North ato, also bilateral relations with the US they have been able to develop on a good basis.

On the other hand, relations with Russia are more rigid: improved following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, relations with Moscow have undergone a cooling following the Ukrainian crisis and the revanchist policies of Vladimir Putin. Norway also aims to develop its own military resources to safeguard its strategic interests in the Arctic region (energy primarily), which will lead Norway to cooperate more closely with Finland and Sweden on defense matters. The diplomatic tensions with China, born in 2010, following the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to the Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, seem to have been overcome, especially since Norway has expressed its consent to Beijing’s accession as a member of the Council Arctic. Furthermore, over the years, diplomacy in Oslo has proved to be an important international mediator, as demonstrated by the historic agreements signed in the Norwegian capital by the Organization for the Liberation of Palestine with Israel in 1993, and by the role played in mediating the conflict between Sri Lanka and the Tamil rebels, between 2000 and 2009. In 2015 Norway played an important mediating role between Colombia and the Farc.

Defense and security

Norway has been part of NATO since 1949, as a founding member. Thanks to the placement in the Atlantic organization, Oslo finds in the USAan important partner for defense and security cooperation. On the other hand, since the fall of the Soviet Union onwards, Russia has also become an interlocutor of primary importance for Norway and, in 2010, the two countries signed a historic agreement for the definition of borders in the Barents Sea, important for cod fishing and for Arctic balances, putting an end to forty years of disputes. The Arctic issue itself, however, remains among the most important for the future of Norwegian security, as well as for all the other actors claiming possessions in that area, also because the probable melting of the ice could open the way to new trade routes and the exploitation of new offshore hydrocarbon resources. In view of these future gains, the Arctic Council was formed in Ottawa in 1996, the intergovernmental forum for the observation and protection of Arctic territories and peoples of which Oslo is a member. Internally, Norway has witnessed, especially in recent years, an increase in the threat from Islamic terrorism as well as that of the extreme right, nationalist and xenophobic. For Norway defense and foreign policy, please check

The controversial relationship with the European Union

Despite possessing all the necessary requisites to apply for admission to the European Union, Norway, together with Iceland, is the only European country traditionally opposed to joining the continental integration process, considered potentially harmful to strategic interests, especially related to economy and energy. On two occasions – in 1972 and 1994 – the population expressed, through referendum, their opposition to joining the EU, albeit with not very high percentages of posting: in 1994 the ‘no’ were 52%. As a result of these isolationist tendencies with respect to the process of European integration, the relations of Norway with the EU are today mainly of an economic nature: Oslo has joined the European Free Trade Association(EFTA) and the European Economic Area (E ea) – although strategic issues such as offshore resources and fisheries are excluded from the agreements – as well as the Schengen agreements, which provide for the free cross-border movement of people within the ‘Eu. Cooperation with Brussels also extends to security policies, since Oslo sends its soldiers to peacekeeping missions promoted by the EU. However, there was no lack of conflict between Brussels and Oslo. In 2011 Norway failed to implement a directive concerning the liberalization of the postal market, while in 2012 it approved the introduction of higher tariffs on some imported food products, in contravention of the agreements in the EEA framework.

In July 2015, the country agreed to contribute to the intra-European economic aid program, allocating 388 million euros per year until 2021 to be redistributed among the 15 poorest states in the EU: in exchange, Norway has obtained more favorable access on the Union markets for its fish products (currently penalized by the Russian import blockade).

Norway Geopolitics