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An Open Letter to Members of NST

Mark Varhaug | Published on 11/1/2022

An Open Letter to Members of NST


Over the past few weeks, you have heard a lot about the intent to close of the Norwegian Consulate General in Houston.  Much has been happening in the background, and we wanted to update you about this.

 

On September 9, 2022 the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) announced a decision to close five diplomatic missions in 2023, including the Norwegian Consulate General in Houston. 

 

In the press release, Minister of Foreign Affairs Anniken Huitfeldt stated, “The political and security policy landscape in Europe is changing rapidly. In light of this, we need to strengthen our diplomatic presence in the EU, NATO and selected European countries”. 

 

The Foreign Minister added, “Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the EU has sought to promote European solidarity and closer cooperation on security and defence. So it makes good sense for us to strengthen Norway’s diplomatic presence in the EU, NATO and selected European countries”. 

 

In regard to Norwegian business interests, Ms. Huitfeldt stated “Both in and outside Europe, we are seeing rapid developments in terms of the green transition and digitalisation. This is opening up enormous opportunities for Norwegian trade and industry”.

 

The Norwegian Society of Texas learned of this intention from Consul General Hilde Janne Skorpen the same day, during our Snorre / Althing event at the Norwegian Consul General's residence in Houston. Over many years, NST has built strong ties with the Norwegian Consulate General in Houston and it would be a great loss for NST, as an organization, if our vital partner in Houston should close. NST is also concerned about the negative impact this decision would have on all members, individuals, and other partners in the Norwegian-American community. 


Together with the Norwegian-American Chamber of Commerce Southwest Chamber in Houston (NACC), we NST discussed how we could jointly object publicly to this decision. The online petition that many of you signed was the first step. Many thanks to all of you who have signed it so far and to those still signing the petition. 


A small group created by NACC and NST worked many long hours to compose a robust and objective letter, urging the Minister to reconsider this decision. So that you all can be fully informed, NST is reprinting this letter on our website.



Halvor Rusdal

Halvor Rusdal, NST's Snorre Chapter President in Houston played a major role in driving NST and NACC action on this matter. He said, "Determination, commitment, passion, hard work, and strong faith made this document. A great cross organizational Norwegian-American team-work never seen before in Texas. Norway can’t afford to close the Consulate General in Houston.  Our petition explains why"

Click to the letter from NST and NACC

T
he petition and letter were the first steps in letting the MFA know of our concerns about their decision. The response from MFA is uncertain, but we have made them aware of how we feel about it. NST will keep you updated about any progress on this matter. Meanwhile, NST welcomes your comments.