Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre says relations between Norway and Poland are continuing to grow in both breadth and depth.
"Our cooperation with Poland has developed more rapidly over the last few years than that with almost any other European country,” Støre says.
Mr Støre is accompanying Norwegian King Harald and Queen Sonja on the state visit to Poland, which started on Wednesday in Warsaw with the signing of three new cooperation programmes on research, education grants and culture.
This is part of Norway’s contribution to Poland through the EEA and Norway Grants. Some NOK 4.5 billion have been allocated to programmes and projects in various sectors for the period up to 2016. This makes Poland the largest recipient of grants under the scheme.
Around NOK 280 million will be used for cooperation projects between Norwegian and Polish researchers. Priority research areas include the environment, health and gender equality. At the same time around NOK 75 million will be used to support exchanges of students and scientific staff between education institutions in Poland and Norway.
Nearly NOK 80 million has also been allocated to exchange and cooperation between Norwegian and Polish artists and cultural institutions.
“Cooperation between beneficiary and donor countries is a key aspect of the EEA and Norway Grants. This is fostering lasting ties and helping to bind Norway and Poland closer together,” said Mr Støre.
Several other topics are on the programme for the three-day state visit. Seminars will be held on defence cooperation, tourism, green growth and modern working life, with emphasis on cooperation between the social partners and the authorities.
The King and Queen will also take part in the promotion of Norwegian seafood. Poland is the third largest export market for Norwegian salmon.
A total of 115 representatives from around 80 companies and organisations are taking part in the Norwegian business delegation. Poland is an important trade partner. Norwegian exports amounted to NOK 15.7 billion (including oil exports) last year, while imports from Poland amounted to NOK 13.4 billion. At the beginning of the year, the value of the investments of the Government Pension Fund Global in Poland was around NOK 5.8 billion.
The state visit will end in Krakow on Friday, where the programme includes a visit to the university. The King and Queen will also take part in the launch of the Norwegian – Polish research programme and meet some of the more than 300 Norwegians who are studying there.