A recent invitation received from the Norwegian Embassy in Bucharest offered me the chance to rediscover Norway eleven years since my last visit to this country.
The “fjords”, the “Vikings” whose ships can be seen in the fascinating Museum located in Bygdoy Island just 10 minutes by boat from the City Hall building in Oslo; the “Norwegian Salmon” or the “trolls” are certainly the few specific symbols that everybody would mention when asked to name particular things for this country that make it being an unique place on earth.
But Norway is much more than all these. With a population of only 4,6 million Norway is not certainly among the most crowded places on the planet. Spread throughout an area the size of Italy the people of Norway have never been afraid of going their own ways, all along their history. A thousand years ago the Vikings sailed their ships south to the Mediterranean, east to the Black Sea and all the way west to Greenland, and many historians claim they even made it to New Foundland in North America.
Today, with a kingship tradition of more than thousand years, Norway is a modern country where the explorative mindset is geared towards technology, innovation and developing a knowledge based society, with booming traditional industries as petroleum, shipping and fishing. And it was not by mere coincidence that for four consecutive years the United Nations (UN) has ranked Norway as having the highest standard of living in the world.
With a very strategic geographic location, Norway has become a very respected and listened voice in the international political arena. Being a NATO member since 1949, a focus of the country’s foreign policy has always been to build a special relationship with its big and powerful neighbour from its Eastern border, Russia. The relationship with the European Union is regulated by the EEA agreement which is the most far reaching economic agreement Norway has ever entered into and that makes the country de facto fully integrated in the European internal market.
Its magnificent landscapes and climatic contrasts are part of the fascination that Norway holds for visitors from other countries. With a nature and climate that are more than merely the basis for memorable experiences, the “fjords’ country” is a forerunner in the global fight against the climate changes. Norway set not only for itself very ambitious goals in environment protection as for instance the one to become a carbon free nation, but has also launched and advocated globally very interesting initiatives for preventing deforestation and global warming.
“Cold weather? Warm people!” This is a saying that I was told once by someone about Norway and Norwegians. I have to admit that its meaning was once again fully confirmed to me by the warm welcome in Oslo, and by the kindness not only of the officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Innovation Norway who I met and with whom I had very interesting discussions about Norway and Norway’s bilateral relations with Romania, but also of the people I met on the streets of Oslo while walking to rediscover a wonderful city with lots of attractions.