German-Norwegian relations are very close and amicable. This is reflected in the two countries’ broad agreement on many international issues and their common approach in areas such as foreign and security policy, environmental and energy policy and humanitarian aid. Norway also has high expectations of Germany as a champion of Norwegian interests within the European Union. Regular consultations are held at all levels. Chancellor Merkel last welcomed Norwegian Prime Minister Solberg to Berlin in October 2018. The German occupation of Norway during the Second World War led to a profound rift in the traditionally very close relations between the two countries. Willy Brandt, who had lived in political exile in Norway from 1933 to 1940, played a key role in reconciling the two countries after the war. Even prior to reunification, Germany had regained its role as one of Norway’s most important partners in Europe.
When the Cold War and the division of Germany were over, Norwegian policymakers began to look more and more towards Germany. The Norwegian Government’s German Strategy, which was adopted in 1999 and last updated in spring 2014, reflects Norway’s efforts to “rediscover its close neighbour Germany”, in particular with a view to stepping up contacts between the two countries’ civil societies. That includes promoting the German language, an aim shared by both sides.
In 2018, Norway imported goods worth around 8.8 billion euros from Germany, primarily motor vehicles, machinery and chemical and pharmaceutical products. Exports of motor vehicles to Norway account for almost one third of total German exports to the country. Norway’s main exports to Germany, besides oil and gas, are fish and chemical products as well as aluminium goods for the German automotive industry. In 2017, the volume of exports was around 14.7 billion euros.
Oil and gas exports
Norway is Germany’s second most important energy provider. Whereas Norway’s oil production fell slightly in 2017 (1.59 billion barrels/day, a decline of two percent), gas production increased by more than six percent to reach a new record of 124 billion m3. Around 80 percent of the oil is exported, mainly to EU countries. The chief importers are the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden and France. Norway supplies two percent of global demand for oil, which puts it in 15th place in producer country rankings. Norway is the third largest exporter of gas, behind Russia and Qatar. The vast majority of the gas produced (117 billion m3) was transported via pipelines to terminals in Belgium, France, Denmark, the United Kingdom and Germany.
Norway has traditionally been a highly popular travel destination for German tourists, who make up the largest group of foreign visitors, ahead of Swedes, Danes, Britons and the Dutch. Every year, there are approximately 1.5 million overnight stays by German visitors in Norway.
Cultural relations and education
Cultural relations between Germany and Norway go back a long way. Prominent figures such as Edvard Munch, Edvard Grieg and Henrik Ibsen spent many years in Germany, and today there is also a lively exchange in both directions, as evidenced by joint German-Norwegian exhibitions and appearances by Norwegian and German artists in the partner country. The Norwegian media also cover outstanding German art events.
In 2019, Norway will be the Guest of Honour at the Frankfurt Book Fair. The country is planning a detailed and large-scale cultural presence in Germany for the whole of 2019, for which the Norwegian Parliament has earmarked 30 million Norwegian kroner (approximately 3.1 million euros). The literature promotion organisation NORLA (Norwegian Literature Abroad) will coordinate Norway’s activities as Guest of Honour.
The bilateral agreement to convert the Max Tau German School in Oslo (DSO) into a German-Norwegian International School entered into force on 19 July 2011. DSO students can obtain both the German International Abitur and the Norwegian university entrance qualification.
Every year since 2007, the German-Norwegian Youth Forum (DNJF), which was founded in 2006, has made it possible for around 100 young people from the two countries to get to know the partner country by participating in joint projects. In 2016, the German-Norwegian Youth Forum celebrated its tenth anniversary on the European Day of Languages. More information on the German-Norwegian Youth Forum is available on its website: wwww.dnjf.org.
Every year, the Norwegisch-Deutsche Willy-Brandt-Stiftung, which was established in 2000, awards the Willy-Brandt-Preis for outstanding achievements in bilateral relations. In 2018, the prize was awarded to the Norwegian political scientist and Secretary General of the Norwegian Atlantic Committee Kate Hansen Bundt and the German researcher at the Norwegian Institute for Defence Studies Dr Robin Allers, at a ceremony attended by the State Secretaries from both Defence Ministries. Since June 2004, the German Norwegian Network (GNN) has been bringing together young leaders from the two countries twice a year. Its last conference took place in Berlin in February 2019.
The Goethe-Institut in Oslo focuses on promoting literature and, in its language work, on providing further training for Norwegian teachers of German. The only German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) lector in Norway works at the University of Bergen.
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