7: Norway: How do diasporas stand out?
There are several ways to measure the importance of the individual diasporas in Norway. We can count how many members individual diasporas have. We can also look at how the diasporas came into being and what this may have to say for their political involvement. We can also look at how these groups are organized and what methods they use to put their issues on the Norwegian political agenda.
Until 2007, Pakistanis were the largest immigrant group in Norway. But just three years after the Norwegian labor market was opened to EEA citizens on 1 May 2004, they were overtaken by Poles. On 1 January 2003, there were 10,759 people with a background from Poland and as many as 62 per cent of them were Norwegian citizens. On 1 January 2008, about 32,000 Poles already lived in Norway, but the number of Poles in the Norwegian labor market was probably much higher.
The Polish embassy, for example, estimated that up to 120,000 Polish citizens were working in Norway at this time. On 1 January 2011, about 60,000 immigrants were registered with a background from Poland. About. 90 percent of them had Polish citizenship.
The newly arrived Poles probably have other, less political and more economic motives as a basis for their move. This is reflected, among other things, in the fact that there is only one Polish organization registered in the most comprehensive register of immigrant organizations, which is maintained by the City of Oslo. On the other hand, we find an abundance of Pakistani (48), Somali (37), Indian (18), Turkish (17), Iranian (15), Tamil (13), Eritrean (11), Kurdish (10), Ethiopian (7) and Chinese (6) organizations on this list consisting of over 280 immigrant organizations.
Unlike the Poles, the Pakistani diaspora in Norway is well organized. As of 1 January 2011, around 32,000 people with a background from Pakistan lived in Norway – of these, just over 17,000 were born in Pakistan. The rest were born and raised in Norway. After living in Norway for almost four decades, Norwegian-Pakistanis are the group that best meets almost all formal requirements to be considered a “thoroughbred” diaspora.
8: Diasporas and Norwegian politics
The Pakistani diaspora has a critical mass (above a certain size), and especially in Oslo it has a certain political weight. They make up almost 4 percent of the population, and there live almost 75 percent of all Pakistanis in Norway. A high proportion of Norwegian-Pakistanis have Norwegian citizenship and are active in Norwegian politics – both locally and centrally. First- and second-generation Norwegian-Pakistanis are visible not only in the street scene in Oslo, but also in Norwegian local and central politics, public debate and important governing bodies.
According to dentistrymyth.com, Norwegian-Pakistanis thus play an important role not only in Norway, but also as bridge builders between Norway and Pakistan, which is especially important in the current situation when Pakistan is put on the Norwegian interest map.
Other diasporas have also managed to organize in Norway. Many of them have tried to put their country on the Norwegian political agenda. Norwegian Tamils have organized demonstrations in Oslo to influence the Norwegian government to increase efforts towards the government in Sri Lanka (2009). Palestinian protests against Israel’s war in Gaza in 2009 and Iranian demonstrations outside the Storting in 2009 are other cases in which diasporas try to influence Norwegian foreign policy.
Norwegian-Egyptians’ support for the revolution in Egypt in February 2011 is another example of how diaspora groups can mobilize, make demands, protest or seek support and make themselves increasingly relevant in the Norwegian political landscape.
The relationship between diasporas and foreign policy is complicated and can present challenges. The main reason for this is that the very phenomenon of “diaspora” occurs when a group of people is forced by circumstances or chooses to settle in another country. These people come from a certain place. They take with them their knowledge, attitudes, perceptions, experiences, norms and values, but also their problems, prejudices and conflicts, and settle down elsewhere. They must thus relate to at least two states – the one they come from and the one they end up in.
In the international systems, states are still the most important players. Citizenship and state affiliation is one of the most important political markers along with ethnic affiliation as an important identity factor. Such a situation where a member of a diaspora has, so to speak, “one foot in each country” creates an irregularity. States are therefore forced to choose one or another strategy for the diaspora groups.