The Norwegian government has announced that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will close five foreign stations next year, including three embassies, one embassy office and one consulate general
Through a statement issued on September 9, the government emphasised that the Ministry will increase staff in some foreign missions in 2023, especially in Europe, in order to deal with the workload, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.
In this regard, the embassies that will be closed in 2023 are the ones in Bratislava (Slovakia), Colombo (Sri Lanka) and Pristina (Kosovo). At the same time, the embassy office in Antananarivo (Madagascar) and the consulate general in Houston (USA) will also be closed next year.
“Norway’s diplomatic presence in Kosovo, Madagascar, Slovakia and Sri Lanka will be handled in a different way, for example, from a nearby Norwegian embassy, or by appointing a home-based ambassador for the individual country,” the statement reads.
Norway currently has 101 foreign missions abroad, including the ones that are set to be closed. However, with these changes, Norway will have fewer foreign missions but roughly the same number of diplomats posted as now.
“The Norwegian Foreign Service consists of more than 2,600 employees, of which around 800 in Oslo, more than 600 posted diplomats, and approximately 1,200 local employees who are employed directly by the foreign missions,” the statement explains.
According to the government, Embassies like the one in Bucharest, Kyiv and Vilnius, together with the EU delegation and the NATO delegation in Brussels, will be strengthened with more Norwegian diplomats in 2023. Thus, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is considering further reinforcements with diplomats or staff employed locally in other countries’ foreign missions in the EU.
Commenting on these changes, Foreign Minister Anniken Huitfeldt added that the EU has contributed to European unity and strengthened cooperation for security and defence after the outbreak of the war in Ukraine. He emphasised that this is how Norway will strengthen its diplomatic efforts in the EU, NATO and selected EU countries.
In addition, Norway will also strengthen selected stations outside Europe with expatriate personnel in 2023. Meanwhile, more local employees will be in selected foreign stations inside and outside Europe.
As the government explains, the increase in diplomats and local employees in some foreign missions is mainly related to the government’s objective to increase Norwegian exports.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs also said that a lot is happening in the EU related to the green transition and digitisation, which offers great opportunities for Norwegian industry and business.