Norwegian Embassy in Sri Lanka to be closed
Fri, Sep 9, 2022, 08:17 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.
Sept 09, Colombo: The Government of Norway has decided to make structural changes in its network of diplomatic missions abroad, the Norwegian Embassy in Colombo said in a press release.
As conveyed in a press release (Changes to Norway’s diplomatic presence abroad – regjeringen.no) from the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs today, this involves a strengthening of several Norwegian Embassies in Europe and beyond.
As part of these reforms, it has also been decided to permanently close five Norwegian diplomatic missions abroad, including the Norwegian Embassy in Colombo, by the end of July 2023. The Norwegian Embassy in Colombo is also accredited to the Maldives.
The decision to close the Embassy in Colombo does not have any bearing on the bilateral relationship between Norway and Sri Lanka. The Government of Norway remains committed to continue further development of friendly and constructive relations between our two countries.
To ensure the continuation of the amicable and long-standing bilateral diplomatic relations, going forward, Norway intends to accredit a Head of Mission and assign diplomatic staff based at another Norwegian Embassy in the region to cover Sri Lanka.
“I am sad to share the news of the planned closure of the Norwegian Embassy in Colombo,” underscored Norwegian Ambassador Trine Jøranli Eskedal. “This is a result of a wider process to determine how the Norwegian Foreign Service should be set up to deal with the changing geopolitical environment and safeguard Norwegian interests and is not related to Sri Lanka in particular. We will continue to maintain our warm bilateral relations with Sri Lanka. Development assistance will also continue”, she stressed.
Norway has been providing aid to Sri Lanka since the 1960s. However, as Sri Lanka transitioned to middle-income status, Norwegian aid to Sri Lanka has been gradually reduced. However, Norway continues to support several ongoing, long-term development programs, such as support for employment and food security in the Northern Province.
In 2021, total Norwegian development assistance to Sri Lanka was NOK 59.7 million (approximately LKR 2150 million), of which NOK 21 million (approximately LKR 756 million) was channeled through the Embassy. In response to the current economic crisis in Sri Lanka,
last month Norway provided humanitarian support amounting to a total of NOK 13 million (approximately LKR 490 million) to Sri Lanka through UN organizations.
Once the Norwegian Embassy in Colombo is closed, consular services in Sri Lanka will be provided from another Norwegian Embassy in the region. There is already a visa hub in New Delhi which handles visa applications from Sri Lanka and Maldives, and applicants can visit a VFS office in Colombo for visa appointments.
Norway opened the Embassy in Colombo in 1996, having had a Norad office in the country since 1976. Historically, an important part of the rationale for Norway’s presence in Sri Lanka was linked to Norway’s role in the peace and reconciliation process.