letters from readers.

We have gathered some of the letters we receive regarding dual citizenship. Clearly this affects many people in different ways.

Brev fra Paris
Jeg har med interesse lest deres artikkel i “Norwegians Worldwide” og støtter fullt opp om ønsket om å kunne oppnå dobbelt statsborgerskap. Vi har et tilfelle her i Frankrike – hvor jeg bor – hvor den ikke helt ukjente, tidligere au-pair piken Gro Farseth etter giftemål med en fransk student ble bi-nasjonal (fransk-norsk) og dermed kunne stemme i det landet hun hadde slått seg ned i. Ved siste presidentvalg i Frankrike stilte Eva Joly, som hun nå heter, opp som presidentkandidat. I dagens likestillings samfunn burde det være åpning for at også menn kunne oppnå dobbelt statsborgerskap, bl.a. for å kunne stemme på lokale politikere som beslutter lover og rammer for all virksomhet i landet, når man likevel betaler alle sine skatter her lokalt. Norge er vel et av de få land som ikke tillater slikt bi-lateralt statsborgerskap.

Nordmenn som bor i utlandet og ønsker å delta i lokalt styre og stell etter å ha slått seg ned permanent i landet, mister sjelden sin interesse for Norge om de oppnår lokalt statsborgerskap, og kan være nyttige ambassadører for Norge i utlandet. Hvorfor ikke la dem fortsette å vaere norske, som bi-nasjonale. Eva Joly er fortsatt det, selv om hun er fransk representant i Europaparlementet.

-Tom Jensen, Paris

Letter from USA, about dual citizenship
I lived and worked for 5 years in Norway and it was the beginning of a lasting affection for Norway and Norwegians.  If it hadn’t been for my family in the US, I might have wanted to remain there.  Yet – I don’t believe in dual-citizenship. Citizenship equates residency with responsibility. One enjoys the benefits and assumes the burdens.  A democracy can only exist when its integrated, unified citizenry are willing to work together toward the same basic goals.  In extreme situations, a citizen’s duty and loyalty is to his own country.  One cannot be “half-loyal”. An individual should be free to enjoy the best of what the world has to offer, but be expected to share a citizen’s responsibilities to one country, whether he chooses to live there 65 or 365 days a year.

-Frances A. Nowak, Massachusetts, USA

Letter from Australia
Reading the letter from the USA about dual citizenship made me feel sort of sad for the writer, Frances A. Nowak.

I was born in Bergen, Norway in 1942 and immigrated to Australia in 1968. I am and will die as a Norwegian citizen. Why should that stop me from getting an Australian citizenship and at the same time let me keep my Norwegian Citizenship. This so I can give some loyalty back to the country that gave me a new prosperous life for the last 45 years. Australian citizenship is required to participate fully in the community.

The statement that one cannot be “Half – Loyal” is not in my view natural. From the moment we are born we all have unreserved loyalty to our two parents. Likewise the parents with several children, should they only have loyalty to one of their children? Airlines, clubs, shopping centres all have “loyalty” programmes. Does your writer suggest she can only have loyalty to one of these?

For the reader who thinks I divorced from my loyalties to Norway when I left the country in 1968, I would just like to mention that I have always had my loyalties there and have assisted Norwegians in any way I could, both before and after my appointment, by the King of Norway, as an unpaid Norwegian Consul in 1991. This appointment I carried out with loyalty and honour until my retirement some 20 years later, while at the same time being loyal to Australia.

Norway prides itself on being at the forefront in international affairs, but now finds itself lagging behind Sweden and Denmark and other countries that have accepted dual citizenship.

I do not and no one should for a moment think that loyalty can be bestowed on one identity only.

-Arne Furre, Darwin, Australia

Letter from Spain
Thank you for bringing attention to the subject of dual citizenship!

I was particularly touched by the situation of Doctor Frivold in California, a perfect example of what Norway as a nation currently risks losing in terms of highly qualified brainpower. Could it be that the ruling attitude in Norway is that opening up to dual citizenship will mean opening too much up for new fellow countrymen with too little sense of belonging to the Kingdom? When it comes to people moving in to Norway, I personally believe those who say the opposite would be the case.

And in reference to Norwegians emigrating and maybe settling abroad professionally and with family of foreign nationality, dual citizenship would help that Norwegian in integrating and developing better in his new country. But more importantly in this connection, at the same time it could assure Norway’s links to him/her and descendants as resource persons.

We live in an increasingly global society, with interconnected economies, though nations remain distinct and sovereign, where protectionism is a thing of the past, where sharing can be a way to growth if handled sensibly.

You will find that most EU countries and the USA are allowing dual citizenship. Also in the Nordic countries dual citizenship is now the rule, and Norway is the exception to that rule.

Kind regards,

-Trond G. Johansen
Madrid, Spain

Brev fra Wisconsin
Eg har budd i USA, Wisconsin, i snart 45 år. Eg har aldri vore villig til å gi opp mitt norske statsborgarskap: eg er norsk. På same tid kan eg ikkje ta full del i det samfunnet eg har valgt: eg har ikkje stemmerett, og i dagens USA har fornuftens politikk sårt bruk for kvar stemme. Dotrene mine (3) er alle “dual’ (norsk far, amerikansk mor), men eg kan ikkje bli det. Dette er urimeleg. To av dotrene flytta tilbake til Norge, for meg er det nok for seint.

-Arne Maage, frå Maage i Ullensvang.

Dual citizenship
I was born to Norwegian immigrant parents in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, then containing more Norwegians than Bergen. When I was 3 my mother took me on a visit to Norway and when I returned 9 months later I spoke only Norwegian. By the time I began my education at 6 I was bilingual, although my parents spoke English when I was present.

During my adolescence I had almost exclusively Norwegian American friends of both sexes.  And after WW II I regularly went with my parents to Norwegian Bazaars raising support for the rebuilding of Norway and it’s economy and to Sons of Norway Christmas parties. Later, a Sons of Norway Lodge decided to start a Junior Lodge of which I was the first and only President.

In 1959 I became involved with a Scandinavian group called Swe-Nor-Den which had existed since 1905. The Norwegian Consul, also a member, was due to retire because of age, and asked if I was interested in applying as his replacement. I reluctantly did so, and six months later he called to tell me I had the appointment. I was Consul for 20 years. In 1971 I was appointed by King Olav V to the rank of Knight 1st Class of Saint Olavs Order.

In 1972-73 I spent a year in Denmark and I and my family made several visits, including a week at Christmas, to Norway. Until about 12 years ago I would visit Norway whenever my International activities permitted, about 14 times, traveling around the country from Kristiansand S. to Narvik, and Aelesund to Roros, sailing on the Oslofjord, Sognefjord, and Geirangerfjord.

For about 5 years I was part owner with other cousins of a residence outside of Oslo inherited from my grandfather. In 1988 I helped start a Sons of Norway Lodge of which I subsequently became President. Recently one of my many Norwegian cousins visited and they complimented me on my spoken Norwegian. With effort I can also write and read “Norsk”. All of this is to document my Norwegian heritage and very close association with all things Norwegian.

As for dual citizenship, I would never consider that.

Divided loyalty, is no loyalty at all, and it raises all kinds of unnecessary thorny questions. My loyalties are to the country of my birth, the U.S.A.

– Sincerely yours, Ola Nordman (nom de plume), Nevada, USA

Letter from Argentina
Reading Norwegians Wordwide magazine I realized, as a daughter of a Norwegian (Ole Gravdal) married to an Argentine (Marina Castiglioni), why my father remained all his life a Norwegian citizen and why my mother, with the possibility of adopting the Norwegian nationality, did not accept it because she did not want to give up her Argentine nationality. Probably that’s also the reason why my sister and I did not adopt the Norwegian nationality, although we were brought up immersed in Norwegian culture.

 

In 1954, my sister Lillian and I spent almost a year in Norway with our relatives in Tønsberg and Andebu. Personally I felt very much at home in a country I had never been in before. In Argentina, my parents always celebrated the National Day on May 17th and, after my father passed away, my mother kept the tradition which we have followed and my sons and niece do now.

As a travel agent I had the pleasure to return to Norway in 1981 for an annual Scandinavian touristic event, held that year in Kristiansand. I then visited my family in Tønsberg.  I went back in 1984, having the great opportunity of being in Norway on May 17th.

The Norwegian community in Argentina is not as numerous now as it was when my father was alive (first half of the 20th Century) but there is  a group of ladies, descendants of Norwegians, who  get together once a month and keep the Norwegian culture alive.

-Elena Gravdal, Argentina

 

Tapte Nordmenn
Norge har “tapt” mange nordmenn på grunn av denne politikken hvor en må gi opp sitt norske statsborgerskap når en får et annet statsborgerskap. Mange ganger var Norge bare “glad” for å bli kvitt fattige nordmenn og hjalp dem å emigrere ved gi dem penger fra ” fattigkassen”. De måtte gi fra seg sitt norske statsborgerskap da de ble amerikanere. Mange av deres etterkommere har nesten ingen kontakt med Norge. Jeg har mange eksempler på dette. Alle min mors onkler og tanter for eksempel, som emigrerte til USA har nesten ingen kontakt med Norge, og hadde heller ikke kunnet få norsk statsborgerskap på grunn av disse reglene.

Norge burde nå tilby dobbelt statsborgerskap til alle etterkommere av nordmenn i utlandet som ønsker det.

-Tomer Hansen, fra Bergen