The decision to close the Embassy was also influenced by the fact that Eritrea asked Norway to discontinue all its development activities in the country since 2011.
By Norway Embassy-Sudan,
The closure of the Norwegian Embassy in Eritrea on 30 June represents the end of a chapter in Norwegian–Eritrean relations.
The first diplomatic relations between Norway and Eritrea were established on 14 March 1994. In April 1995, an honorary consulate was established in Asmara; in June 1996 Eritrea was designated a priority partner country; and on 8 December 2003 an embassy was established in Asmara.
However, Norwegian–Eritrean relations date further back, with extensive Norwegian solidarity in connection with the Eritrean War of Independence (1961–91).
Development cooperation between Norway and Eritrea has mainly focused on human rights, democracy-building, peace processes and humanitarian relief. Norwegian aid was channeled through Norwegian NGOs until they were all, with the exception of Norwegian Church Aid, asked to leave Eritrea in the build-up to the war with Ethiopia (1998–2000). Since then, the UN has been the main channel for Norwegian aid, with particular focus on health projects, especially in the fields of HIV/AIDS and ante-natal healthcare.
Government-to-government assistance has gradually been reduced since 2000. A forest and environment project has been implemented in cooperation with the Eritrean Ministry of Agriculture. An evaluation of this project in 2011 concluded that its aims had been successfully met. Other government-to-government aid projects have also been successful, including the establishment of a teacher training college and a national statistics office.
Norway has been engaged in several attempts at facilitating peace between Eritrea and Ethiopia, and in 2001-2002 Norway was lead nation for the Security Council’s work on the conflict.
A large part of the Embassy’s recent work has related to immigration matters. In 2012, the Embassy processed visa applications for Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Iceland, Germany, Austria and the Netherlands.
The closure of the Embassy is due to a restructuring process in the Norwegian Foreign Service that has been implemented over the last three years. This process is part of the ongoing adaptation of the Foreign Service to ensure that Norwegian interests are safeguarded in the best possible way in a rapidly changing world. In this connection, Norway has strengthened its presence in other parts of the Horn of Africa, and this has reduced the need for an embassy in Asmara. The decision to close the Embassy was also influenced by the fact that Eritrea asked Norway to discontinue all its development activities in the country in the autumn of 2011.
The Norwegian Embassy in Khartoum is to be accredited to Eritrea, and took over responsibility for processing immigration matters on 1 May this year.