Tag Archives: Import

Selfies, Terrorism and Borge Brende: Norway Fast News

The Norwegian Foreign Minister, Børge Brende.

The Norwegian Foreign Minister, Børge Brende.

Last week, Norwegian media focused on the referendum in Crimea, a terror attack in Somalia by a Norwegian-Somalian man, and the fact that some import goods travel thousands of miles in order to avoid Norwegian customs. Ingunn Dorholt provides you with The Bottom Line.

Like the rest of Europe, Norwegian media has had its eyes on Ukraine and the referendum in Crimea. The Norwegian foreign minister, Børge Brende, has stated that “Russia’s use of military force to create new borders in Europe is unacceptable”. According to the foreign department, Norway has so far postponed an environmental meeting and a trade agreement with Russia as a result of the referendum. According to Brende, Norway will continue to view Crimea as part of Ukraine, and he adds that “Putin’s speech represents a serious setback for security and stability in Europe”.

Extensive import routes

The media has also brought to attention the extensive travel routes that some Norwegian import goods undertake. The Danish Salami in Norwegian stores is produced in Denmark and the Philadelphia cheese is produced in Germany – but it is made with milk from Norwegian cows. Due to high Norwegian customs put in to protect Norwegian farmers, milk and meat is sent from Norway through Europe and then back to Norway, as this still saves European producers money compared to paying the Norwegian customs. Famous Italian and Spanish hams, such as Serrano, have actually been sent from Spain and Italy twice by the time it reaches Norwegian homes, as the EEA agreement classifies the meat as local if sent to other countries before the product is considered complete.

Representatives from the authorities says this business is not illegal, but a highly creative way to avoid customs. While all this transfer is done to keep the average price for the products low in Norway, there’s little doubt the environmental price is high, as some of the hams in Norwegian stores have travelled 10,000 Kilometres. The department for agricultural management in Norway admits that the environmental issues were not taken into consideration when initiating this arrangement.

Meat and dairy products sold in Norwegian store, might have been on longer trips around Europe.

Meat and dairy products sold in Norwegian store, might have been on longer trips around Europe.

Norwegian link to terror in Somalia

The Norwegian media has paid attention to the terror attack in Buuloburde, Somalia, which occurred last Tuesday. The terror attack was carried out by a 60-year-old Norwegian-Somali man, who placed a truck filled with explosives at the entrance of Hotel Camalow. According to the independent Somali news webpage, RBC radio, Islamist group Al-Shabaab claims that the man was affiliated with the group. The small city of Buuloburde was formerly controlled by Al-Shabaab, but was taken by the UN-supported peacekeeping force AMISOM on Monday. The hotel was housing soldiers and officers. According to Al-Shabaab 32 people lost their lives, numbers that have not yet been confirmed. The Norwegian security service, PST, has started its investigation but is still working on getting information about the 60-year-old man.

The perfect “selfie”

Looking for the best spot for a “selfie”? Norwegian media were pleased when the American webpage Buzzfeed this week announced their list, of the most spectacular places in the world for taking “selfies”. On top of the list was “The Trolls Tounge” in Odda, Norway. This sight ranked above world famous places like Victoria Falls, The Dead Sea and the Great Wall of China.

American website Buzzfeed named Norwegian rock formation the perfect place to take a "selfie".

American website Buzzfeed named Norwegian rock formation the perfect place to take a “selfie”.











Photos from Flickr Creative Commons: M.B Haga, Memphis CVB, Destination Hardanger Fjord.

Kiev, Syria and The Forgotten War: German Fast News

Barack Obama

Barack Obama

Following a week which has been dominated by East-West tensions, Maria Wokurka provides the central European view on an increasingly divisive situation in this week’s Bottom Line from Germany.

Kyiv – voices from Germany

The world’s community has been focusing on the Ukraine and Kyiv. The protests and riots have led to the “Crimea crisis”.
Now Kyiv is in the urgent need of financial aid – and the EU is willing to help. The President of the commission, José Manuel Barroso, announced help in the form of eleven billion Euros. Russian’s president Vladimir Putin spoke of economic collaboration, in spite of the crisis.

In France, the foreign ministers of different EU states, including John Kerry and Frank-Walter Steinmeier as well as Sergej Lawrow, have met to diplomatically negotiate the crisis: some have claimed Moscow must eventually face international sanctions if it doesn’t end its involvement in Ukraine.

Germany’s federal government wants to abandon sanctions against Russia if today’s negotiations spawn a possible contact group. Without this contact group the sanctions will be on the agenda at the EU summit. While the German armed forces puts collaboration with the Russian armed forces on the test, Chancellor Angela Merkel and the foreign minister have sought to find a political loophole out of the drastic situation in the Ukraine.

The East-Europe-expert Hans-Henning Schröder said in an Interview with tagesschau.de that he is convinced that the good relationship between Russia and Germany could lead to a de-escalation in terms of the Ukraine. “Indeed, there is a really good connection between Berlin and Moscow. Even though there has been lots of criticism the last years, a big chance lies in this relationship.” According to Schröder, Germany is capable of acting as a negotiator between the West and the East. The online magazine Die Welt speaks of “Merkel’s walk on a tightrope between Putin and Obama.
There will be no easy solution. The foreign minister Steinmeier calls the critical situation in the Ukraine “the most problematic crisis in Europe since the Fall of the Wall.”

Has Syria been forgotten?

Since January the death count in Syria has stopped being recorded by Uno. The situation is a war but has become less prominent in the global media. The violence in Syria is part of the every-day-life. Every second Syrian citizen was forced to leave their home. Germany’s magazine Spiegel Online fears that Syria is becoming one of the forgotten conflicts such as Somalia or Iraq.



The Uno commissioner Antonio Guterres says: “Five years ago Syria has been the second most important country to receive refugees.” Now there is a dramatic change. “So far Afghanistan counted as the biggest refugee population, Syria is close to displacing Afghanistan.”

What is the current situation? The peace negotiations have temporarily failed. Assad has tried to reconquer districts in Aleppo but 10,000 inhabitants of the city have fled during the last months. The German authorities have said that 300 Germans are currently in Syria. How many of them are involved in fighting however is not known.

Export vs import – does Germany export debt?

Germany is currently being described as the trade world champion. Indeed, this name is flattering for a country that bases its political self-confidence on its economic strength. Brussels is skeptical and critical towards Germany’s economic imbalance.
Germany’s government has always referred to the country as remarkably competitive and that has been the best argument so far. But during the last few years the government signed several summit declarations. According to these declarations the huge economic imbalances worldwide are a central cause for recent crises. If Chancellor Angela Merkel appeals to, for instance, Greece to improve the competitiveness in terms of export numbers, there is no other way that countries such as Germany have to reduce their exports and increase their imports instead.

More export than import or vice versa – in general that is not the biggest problem as long as the imbalances stay within the bounds of possibility. That means that higher import countries must be able to afford these higher imports. Higher export countries, however, are exporting debts together with their commodities.