NORWAY had a general election on Monday – not that you’d know. There was not a squeak on UK or Scottish news outlets. That’s predictable – we hardly get news about the progress of the German elections so it’s hardly a surprise that a “tiny” northern nation of just over five million people warrants no attention whatsoever. But it’s also a shame.

Firstly, the Norwegians are among Scotland’s nearest neighbours. Secondly, we have interests in common: the future of oil; fishing and the development of renewables; and remote communities. Norway and Scotland share a commitment to tackle climate change and have a common interest in the future of the North Atlantic. There could soon be trade and foreign policy issues in common too.

The Scottish Government has said an independent Scotland might consider joining the “halfway house” of the European Economic Area (EEA) instead of full EU membership. EEA membership (open to members of the alternative European Trade club EFTA) allows members to access the EU single market without being subject to the Common Agriculture and Fisheries Policies and the Customs Union – this latter exclusion could potentially be very useful if a Brexiting UK is no longer in the EU Customs Union either, as everyone but David Davis expects. Norway and Iceland have pioneered the development of the EEA “halfway house” as described in the book McSmorgasbord.

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READ MORE: Conference in Edinburgh to highlight Scotland's links to 'New North'

Happily – from the perspective of small countries in EFTA led by Norway – the UK Government has ruled out EEA membership, though of course, there’s plenty of time for it to panic, change its mind and court the disapproval of the little Nordic states by forcing their way in. Just for good measure, Alex Salmond recently announced his preference for the EEA halfway house rather than full EU membership for an indy Scotland. So there are plenty of strategic reasons for Scots to be interested in the politics of Norway. And there is one very large, practical and newsworthy reason.

On November 19, hundreds of politicians, activists and civic leaders from Norway, Iceland, the Faroes, Greenland, Canada, Alaska, Russia and the wider world will arrive in Edinburgh for a special Arctic Circle Forum entitled Scotland And The New North, which is set to focus on sustainable development and climate change.

Clinching this conference is unquestionably a feather in Scotland’s cap and recognition that, although devolved rather than independent, Scotland is most definitely regarded as a “player” by other North Atlantic states.

The Arctic Circle organisation describes itself as “a network of dialogue and cooperation on the future of the Arctic”, which gathers for an assembly in Reykjavik every October and across the world in special forums on areas of Arctic cooperation. Previous locations have included Washington, Singapore, Quebec, Greenland and Alaska – and this time it is Edinburgh’s turn.

Why Scotland? Nicola Sturgeon did concede it might be an unlikely connection when she delivered her keynote speech at last year’s Arctic Circle conference in Iceland, saying: “Scotland may not quite, geographically, be part of the Arctic Circle, but in our heritage, culture, policy approach – and sometimes our weather – there is much we share.”

The First Minister drew applause and laughter from the 2000 delegates in the impressive, waterfront-dominating Harpa conference venue when she claimed Scotland is really the Arctic’s closest neighbour: “Our north coast is closer to the Arctic than to London. That’s why we want to play our full part in facing the challenges and harnessing the opportunities that stand before the Arctic right now.”

These are more than mere words – Scotland is and always has been a North Atlantic nation. We are connected through the oil and gas deposits that stretch north across the North Sea into the Arctic Barents and Kara seas. Many of the men and women who staff platforms in the Norwegian sector of the North Sea come from Scotland – and vice-versa. Scotland’s North Sea fishing grounds also flow into the rich fishing waters of Norway, the Faroes and Iceland. And though these High North nations are more physically remote than any part of Scotland, Arctic infrastructure is usually better and human populations larger than in the Highlands and Islands – the result of absentee landlordism, under-investment across centuries and disempowerment on a scale completely unknown in the more fortunate and liberated Arctic latitudes.

Norway’s oil-fuelled sovereign wealth fund reached its highest ever value yesterday, exceeding $1 trillion in value for the first time. Indeed, the upswing in oil revenues might explain the unexpected return to power of Erna Solberg’s Conservative Party in Monday’s general election. With thousands of oil jobs disappearing in the west of the country around Stavanger and Haugesund, the Norwegian Labour Party was laying into Solberg’s economic policy.

But millions spent in redeployment and the recent oil price rise have created a mini feel-good boom – how very different from things over here – and the campaign led by Labour’s Jonas Gahr Store misfired – the party stood at 37 per cent in the opinion polls just a month ago but sank to 27 per cent of the vote earlier this week. As in Britain, though, the Conservatives have no overall majority and look set to do a deal with the ultra-right Progress Party and two smaller parties to stay in power.

The views of those “kingmaker” parties could make a massive difference on one key issue that affects both of the North Sea cousins, Scotland and Norway: oil exploration in key fishing grounds.

The waters off the rugged Norwegian archipelago of Vesteralen and Lofoten are home to the world’s biggest cold-water coral reef and a breeding area for 70 per cent of all fish caught in the Norwegian and Barents seas, according to WWF. But there are also massive oil reserves there and Norway’s public is split on whether to exploit it.

According to an Ipsos poll done this month for the Norwegian paper Dagbladet, 44 per cent of Norwegians would be willing to leave some oil in the ground if it helped cut emissions.

Opponents of oil exploration argue a spill could cause catastrophic harm and could make Norway breach the Paris climate agreement. But oil companies, led by state-controlled Statoil, say access is key if the country wants to maintain oil and gas production, which is forecast to fall in 2025 from a 2004 peak. There’s a lot at stake. The government estimates Lofoten could hold about 1.3 billion barrels of oil equivalent – industry analysts have doubled that. If it’s all crude oil rather than gas, that would represent at least $65 billion in sales value at current prices.

So will drilling go ahead? The small but powerful island municipalities are opposed and though Oslo may try to overrule them, councils have clout across the Nordic, Arctic and North Atlantic – everywhere except Scotland that is.

So Norway faces a really big decision – the same as the one Scotland would face if Holyrood rather than Westminster was calling the shots over further exploration in the North Sea and the deep waters west of the Hebrides. These are tough choices, so it’s good news that Scotland is getting more involved with nations who have most to lose through climate change and any random plundering of the Earth’s remaining mineral resources, many of which lie inside the Arctic Circle.

It’s hoped the next generation of antibiotics may come from the waters of the Arctic, and a new form of renewable energy “Blue Carbon” might provide a way to mitigate carbon dioxide emissions because boggy foreshores are being found to provide natural carbon sinks – and Scotland along with all the Arctic nations has plenty of those.

Scottish marine biologists are at the forefront of both exciting, new developments. And Scotland’s pioneering use of community-ownership will be under the microscope when speakers from the Glen Wyvis community-owned distillery, the Apple Juice community-owned Hydro scheme in Applecross and the community-owned island of Eigg head to Reykjavik for the first-ever Scottish breakout session at an Arctic Circle conference next month, along with Nicola Sturgeon who’s scheduled to make another keynote speech herself.

So in October, the Scots head towards the Arctic, and in November the Arctic heads to Scotland. Such a meeting of kindred spirits – of small, powerful, resilient, northern island nations in Edinburgh – will surely give a flavour of the new alliances and opportunities that lie ahead for Scotland.