Speaking on the sidelines of the official launch of the new Theatre in the Park in the capital on Tuesday night, Hopland said it could be his last public appearance in Zimbabwe.
He cited the embassy’s move to Pretoria as the reason. “This might possibly be the last opportunity I have to address such a distinguished audience in Harare since the Norwegian embassy will be closing in June,” said Hopland. “Following the dive of the oil price and the cost of the refugee cases in Europe, all ministries have to cut their expenditures.
“So, the ministry of foreign affairs had to close five embassies. We are also closing in Zambia, Kazakhstan, Guatemala and Bulgaria.” But Hopland said Norway would continue its programmes in Zimbabwe. He said the embassy’s closure was not a sign of bad diplomatic relations between the two countries.
“Even without an embassy, many ties between Norway and Zimbabwe will continue,” said Hopland. Norway established its embassy in Zimbabwe in 1981, shortly after independence. It has provided development aid to the country, with a focus on support to democratisation, human rights and culture.