Norway says no to Finland birthday gift

  | James Innes

2017 will see Finland celebrate 100 years of independence from Russia. However, one birthday present they will have to do without is Mount Halti, which is currently situated in Norway.

Members of the community living on the border between Norway and Finland have mounted a vigorous campaign, backed by a 17,000 Facebook group, to move the current border a few hundred meters to the north-east, this effectively transferring sovereignty of the mountain to Finland. It would also make Mount Halti, at a stroke, the highest mountain in Finland. 

Unfortunately, Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg has just said no. Solberg has had an eventful summer. After indulging in a public row with Facebook over censorship, she was then caught playing Pokemon Go during a debate in the Norwegian Parliament. Now she is embroiled in a row over a mountain.

In a letter to Svein Leiros, the mayor of the town of Kaafjord, in northern Norway, who supported the campaign, Ms Solberg explained that it was too legally difficult to change the border of Norway, because the Norwegian constitution says the kingdom of Norway is “indivisible and inalienable”.

“We will think of another gift to celebrate the occasion of the Finland centenary”, said Solberg.

Campaigners have not given up. Geirr Hanson, the retired employee of the Norwegian Mapping Authority who conceived the plan in the first place, said it was “geophysically illogical” that the straight line border separating Norway and Finland drawn up in the 18 th century, gave most of Mount Halti to Finland, but the peak to Norway.

He and Mayor Leiros have completed a new report which they hope will change the mind of the government in Oslo. Geologist Bjorn Geirr said that the campaign will “not take no for an answer.”


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