Norges Bank says ‘no’ to Nobel

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Norway’s central bank, Norges Bank, doesn’t think the Nobel Peace Prize needs any more international stature than it already has, and has firmly turned down a request to issue annual memorial coins in connection with the Peace Prize and its winner.

The Nobel Institute wanted memorial coins to be issued in conjunction with its Peace Prize, but Norway's central bank turned down the request. PHOTO: Views and News

Newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) reported just before the Easter holidays began that both the Norwegian Nobel Institute and the Nobel Peace Center had applied to Norges Bank for the minting of memorial coins. 

The Nobel officials reportedly wanted to further boost the status of the Peace Prize, even though it’s already considered the most prestigious prize in the world. They also eyed the memorial coins as a new source of income. 

The coins, it was thought, could be sold not only in Norway but internationally and raise funds for various new projects and events such as books, portrait exhibitions or even a traveling international exhibit about the prize in cooperation with the Foreign Ministry.

Norges Bank, however, restricts its issuance of memorial coins, which are only supposed to occur in connection with “major national events.” During the past 10 years, the central bank has issued memorial coins tied to, for example, the millennium, the 100th anniversary of Henrik Ibsen’s death and the centennial of Norway’s sovereignty. The Nobel Peace Prize itself earned a memorial coin when it celebrated its first 100 years in 2001.

But the prize doesn’t deserve what the Norwegians call a minnemynt every year. According to its written response reported in DN, “Norges Bank can’t see that the Peace Prize is so special in relation to other events that it warrants annual issuance, and would therefore in practice be the only event marked with memorial coin issuance.”

Nor can any individual prize winner be put on a memorial coin, because current rules only allow portrayal of persons – with the exception of members of the royal family – who are deceased.

Memorial coins approved by Norges Bank for the next 10 years include one this year honoring violinist Ole Bull, two next year in connection with the 200th anniversary of Norway’s first university and Oslo’s hosting of the Nordic Skiing World Championships, and one in 2012 to mark the 75th birthdays of King Harald and Queen Sonja.

Coins will also be issued to mark 100 years of voting rights in 2013, and the bicentennials of Norway’s constitution in 2014,  of Norway’s Supreme Court in 2015, and of Norges Bank itself in 2016.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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