Colombo: The Norwegian embassy in Sri Lanka is to be closed by the middle of next year as part of Oslo’s structural changes in its network of diplomatic missions abroad.
The Norwegian Foreign Ministry said the move involves strengthening several Norwegian embassies in Europe and beyond, The Financial Times here reported on Saturday. Norway’s embassy opened here in 1996.
Norway has decided to close permanently five of its diplomatic missions abroad including 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 embassy said in a statement.
“The government of Norway remains committed to continuous further development of friendly and constructive relations between our two countries.”
Norway intends to accredit a Head of Mission and assign diplomatic staff based at another Norwegian embassy in the region to cover Sri Lanka.
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.
In 2021, total Norwegian development assistance to Sri Lanka was Rs. 2,150 million, of which Rs. 756 million was channeled through the embassy.
Once the Norwegian embassy in Colombo is shut, consular services in Sri Lanka will be provided by another Norwegian Embassy in the region.
There is already a visa hub in New Delhi that handles visa applications from Sri Lanka and the Maldives.