Greetings from the Ambassador
The shared experience of occupation during the Second World War brought our countries closer together, although the friendly relations between our people were already established by then, as illustrated by the volunteer Norwegian medical personnel working with the Red Cross during the Balkan wars and the First World War.
Today, the Western Balkans is struggling with challenges that are European in nature. Norway support Serbia, Macedonia and Montenegro in their ambitions for closer ties with the institutions that secure democracy, economic development and freedom in Europe. The three Balkan countries share the values and objectives of European and Trans-Atlantic cooperation. Although they have different objectives and are at different stages in their efforts, their accomplishments over the past few years are impressive. Difficulties, however, remain, and Norway will continue to support their efforts politically and financially.
As Norway’s ambassador to Serbia, Macedonia and Montenegro, I will work hard to maintain and further strengthen the strong political, cultural and commercial links between Norway and Serbia, Macedonia and Montenegro. The Embassy’s website as well as Facebook and Twitter accounts provide information on our activities. Your suggestions and comments on the work of the Embassy are very welcome and appreciated.
Arne Sannes Bjørnstad
Norway and Serbia
03.07.2014 // Relations between Norway and Serbia are very good. A central part of this is the broad project cooperation between the countries since 2000. Serbia is an important partner for Norwegian efforts for supporting regional cooperation and assist furthering the region’s European integration.
Events during the Second World War contributed to laying strong foundations for the bilateral relationship. 4268 Yugoslav prisoners of war, most of them Serbian, were sent to prison camps in Norway, where they lived under extremely tough conditions. Many of the prisoners received help from local populations in Norway, yet only 1955 of them survived. Based on contacts that were made during the war, a Norwegian-Yugoslav friendship association was later established, as well as several Norwegian-Yugoslav friendship municipalities.
In 1977 a Norwegian lectureship was established at the University of Belgrade. In 1988 the Department of Scandinavian Language and Literature was established at the same university. The friendship house in Gornji Milanovac, which was established in 1987, is possibly the greatest symbol of Norwegian-Serbian cooperation, and is used for hosting various events that bring Norwegian and Serbian communities together.
Norway has contributed with approx. NOK 1.950 million (€ 250 million) in bilateral assistance to Serbia since 2000. For 2013 Norwegian assistance is approx. 70 mill. NOK. A large part of the aid is realized through a close and direct cooperation between Norwegian and Serbian governments. Important priorities in this cooperation are energy and environmental issues; reform of the security-, justice- and domestic sectors; strengthening of independent control- and regulatory agencies and gender and minority issues. The defense-related cooperation between Norway and Serbia is particularly visible.
Norway also supports confidence-building measures among ethnic communities.
Telenor is the largest foreign investor in Serbia.