Editorial: Norway should change its plans

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 18, 2007

Norway needs to change its plans to reduce the status of the consulate in Minneapolis. Keeping a full consulate general in the Upper Midwest will maintain a strong and lasting relationship for trade and culture.

Two-thirds of Norwegian-Americans live in the Upper Midwest, especially in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa and the Dakotas. North Dakota has the highest amount of Norwegian-Americans per capita. Albert Lea, as longtime residents can tell you, has a strong presence of Norwegian and Danish descendants.

The Norwegian pioneer farmers who moved to the region sent money back to relatives in the old country struggling with the uphill farming they were engaged in back in Norway &8212; in an age long before that country became wealthy from oil reserves. Even back before that country became independent of Sweden in 1905.

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A consulate general is one step below an embassy. It has a Norwegian diplomat and a staff of five. Norway has had a consul in Minneapolis since 1906, soon after independence. The downgrade would make the new office &8220;honorary,&8221; and the Norwegian diplomat would be replaced with a U.S. citizen.

Norway also wishes to close the consulate in Scotland and to open consulate generals in China and Spain.

Tsk. Tsk. Norway seems to say: So much for the Norwegian-Americans of the Upper Midwest. That&8217;s too bad. These folks have embraced their cultural heritage perhaps greater than Norwegians have.

There is a lot of common values and respect between Norway and the Norwegian community of the Upper Midwest. Norway could end up throwing away its best allies in the world.