Corps Consulaire de Norvége, the organization representing all foreign consuls in Norway, is celebrating its 40th anniversary this week with a seminar and traditional ball. The occasion will allow the consuls to dress up in full regalia, with any royal decorations they may have.
“We can’t just meet to say ‘skål,'” Peter Daae, president of the consular corps, told newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN). Daae, who serves as honorary consul general for Bangladesh in Norway, will be leading the seminar that will feature talks on the northern areas, pollution in the Baltic and piracy at sea, before they all celebrate at the ball on Saturday evening.
There are more than 200 consuls in Norway, representing countries that don’t have embassies in Norway but also many that do, and have consuls placed around the country. The Nordic and Baltic countries have the largest amount of consuls in Norway, located in cities from Fredrikstad in the south to Tromsø and Kirkenes in the North.
As many as 25 ambassadors will take part in the celebration as well, from countries with embassies and consuls like France, Italy, Lithuania, Estonia, Sweden, Finland and Denmark. The latter countries are very well represented in Norway, with Finland having 23 consuls and Sweden 17, according to the most current list from the Foreign Ministry. Estonia, meanwhile, has four consuls in Bergen, Stavanger, Trondheim and Tromsø. Denmark has consuls in all of Norway’s major cities plus Båtsfjord, Bodø, Egersund, Hamemrfest and Harstad, Lillesand and Moss.
Many of the consuls are prominent names in Norwegian business, like Trond Lykke who runs the Bunnpris grocery store chain (consul for Denmark in Trondheim), Morten Wilhelmsen of the Oslo shipping family (consul for Australia), former DNB boss Svein Aaser (general counsul for Singapore) and philanthropist Trond Mohn (consul for South Korea in Bergen). Most are honorary consuls and hold the post on a volunteer basis without pay but with a certain amount of prestige. The classic tasks of issuing visas have given way to more trade and cultural duties, much of it promotional in nature for the country they represent.