Norwegian Language Blog

Sri Lankan conflict hits Norwegian newspapers, not US Posted by on Apr 22, 2009 in Norway and the world

Upon perusing the Norwegian newspaper “Aftenposten” online, I came across a headline (with 4 or 5 subheadlines) and a large picture telling recent news of the conflict in Sri Lanka.  For those of you who are unaware, the Sri Lankan government has been in conflict with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (AKA the Tamil Tigers) since the early 1980s.  �Norway has a long-standing friendly relationship with Sri Lanka and has for years been involved in peace efforts to resolve the conflict.  Just to give you an idea of how seriously awful the conflict is, 70,000 people have been reported killed in the war since 1983.  There have been times throughout the conflict at which progress seemed to be so near, but like many other civil wars and international wars, the peace that seemed so close can be shattered in an instant if an action or a statement  provokes continued violence. 

Back to the article that Aftenposten printed in their online newspaper, (which you can view at the following web address:, I find it very interesting that it is one of the larger headlines on the main site for the newspaper.  I have not seen much of anything in the newspaper that I read every morning, the Star Tribune (Minneapolis paper), or on websites that I have checked such as CNN, ABC, or even BBC (which you would think might be more likely to report something global…).  The headline for the article in Aftenposten reads literally “Desperate situation for refugees in Sri Lanka” (‘Desperat situasjon for flyktningene på Sri Lanka).  50,000 civilians have fled the Tamil-area for safety.  As mentioned earlier, Norway has long been involved in peace-making efforts in Sri Lanka and as you can see, the Norwegian media does a good job of informing the public about recent events regarding the conflict.  It is actually quite amazing that we can receive any information at all since the area controlled by the Tamil Tigers is off-limits to international aid organizations and the press alike.  The refugees that sucessfully escape the dangerous area are describing the situation as becoming more and more desperate.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sure had good things to say about Norway on April 6 of this year when she met with Norwegian foreign minister Jonas Gahr Stoere at the State Department.  Senator Clinton praised Norway for the country’s untiring efforts to negotiate peace in Sri Lanka and in so many other areas of the world.  She said, ‘Few countries have contributed to the cause of global peace and resolving conflicts around the world than Norway has.’ 

Unfortunately, shortly after the nice comments from Senator Clinton about Norway’s positive role in the situation, on April 12, the Sri Lankan embassy i Oslo was attacked.  The Norwegian government has condemned the act and will compensate the Sri Lankan government for the damages, in addition to completing a thorough investigation into the attack. 

If any of you have a particular global conflict or issue in which Norway plays a role and you would like to know a bit more about it, please note this in your comments so that I can address it.


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About the Author: kari

I attended St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN, where I majored in Norwegian and History. During college, I spent almost a year living in Oslo, Norway, where I attended the University of Oslo and completed an internship at the United States Embassy. I have worked for Concordia Language Villages as a pre-K Norwegian teacher and have taught an adult Norwegian language class. Right now, I keep up by writing this Norwegian blog for Transparent Language. Please read and share your thoughts! I will be continuing this blog from my future residence in the Norwegian arctic!


  1. Dee Hayward:

    I’m just writing to say how much I enjoy reading your blog. Your latest on the Tamil Tigers was very interesting – I looked at the international version of the BBC website and there was a small headline stating ‘Tamil Tigers urged to end Fight’ but that was all. Here in the UK reports of the conflict have been on the nightly news several times, but I guess that they’ve been over-shadowed by events closer to home recently, like Alistair Darlings new budget proposals.

    Takk for at du hjelpe meg med mine norsk!

  2. Kari:

    I agree-I think Norway’s involvement in the Sri Lankan conflict is very interesting. BBC must have posted something after I looked at it, or perhaps I missed it!

    I will try to write about other peace efforts that Norway is involved with. It is very unusual that a country the size of Norway and so far removed geographically from much of the world, to play such strong roles in international conflicts.

  3. Dee Hayward:

    Hi again!
    I’ve always found it useful to look at a country’s history if you want to know how/why it has developed, or why it behaves in a certain way. The Vikings were clearly the greatest travellers of their age – one only has to look at how many places they raided/colonised & established trade links with – in Europe and beyond. So in a way Norway (and Scandinavia as a whole), has always punched above its weight in terms of the scope of its international achievments vs. its small populations. Maybe Norway’s determined diplomatic efforts in Sri Lanka & elsewhere are a legacy from that age-old Viking mindset?
    Being in Europe, I don’t think of Norway as being far away – a history lecturer of mine once turned the map of Europe around so that from Norway we were looking down on the rest of the continent. He pointed out that the North Sea must have been the Viking equivalent of the Mediterranean Sea! But to the rest of the world, I guess Norway must seem like a far flung place.

  4. Anna:

    Thank you for sharing. I check many different news sources everyday, and this was the first I’ve read of the Sri Lankan conflict.

    Since you asked for requests: What is the Norwegian stance on nuclear arms issues with North Korea and Iran (for example)?

    One (small) note- Clinton is not a Senator any longer, she is the Secretary of State.

  5. Kari:

    OK now the Sri Lankan conflict has hit the media. Norway was just on the ball.

  6. Vridhachalempillay:

    If you make a study of the history of ethnic conflicts of the World,this has been one of the bloodiest episodes that History would record impartially. The conflict is based on religious beliefs,linguistic-affinity positions taken and finally economic exploitation of the minority by the majority. Bloodshed is not yet over !

  7. Vridhachalempillay:

    If approved by the group we may think and act firmly.