Serbia is an important partner for Norwegian efforts for supporting regional cooperation and assist furthering the region’s European integration.Events during the Second World War contributed to laying strong foundations for the bilateral relationship. 4268 Yugoslav prisoners of war, most of them Serbian, were sent to prison camps in Norway, where they lived under extremely tough conditions. Many of the prisoners received help from local populations in Norway, yet only 1955 of them survived. Based on contacts that were made during the war, a Norwegian-Yugoslav friendship association was later established, as well as several Norwegian-Yugoslav friendship municipalities.
In 1977 a Norwegian lectureship was established at the University of Belgrade. In 1988 the Department of Scandinavian Language and Literature was established at the same university. The friendship house in Gornji Milanovac, which was established in 1987, is possibly the greatest symbol of Norwegian-Serbian cooperation, and is used for hosting various events that bring Norwegian and Serbian communities together.
Norway has contributed with bilateral assistance to Serbia since 2000. For 2017 Norwegian assistance was approx. 30 mill. NOK. A large part of the aid is realized through a close and direct cooperation between Norwegian and Serbian governments. Important priorities in this cooperation are energy and environmental issues; reform of the security-, justice- and domestic sectors; strengthening of independent control- and regulatory agencies and gender and minority issues. The defense-related cooperation between Norway and Serbia is particularly visible.
Norway also supports confidence-building measures among ethnic communities.