Norway dashes Finnish hopes of mountain peak gift | News | DW | 14.10.2016
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Norway dashes Finnish hopes of mountain peak gift

Norway's government has said it cannot move its borders, dashing hopes that it would offer Finland a bordering mountain peak as a centenary gift. A Facebook campaign for the gift had racked up more than 17,000 fans.

Norway's government has dashed Finland's hopes of receiving an Arctic peak bordering the two countries as a centenary gift, citing a legal road bump in its constitution.

 A Facebook campaign that amassed more than 17,000 supporters called on Norway to give away the peak of 1,365-meter (4,480-foot) high Mount Halti by moving its border 31 meters inwards. The gift would have corrected a geographical incongruity; the Finish border with Norway wraps itself most of the way around the mountainside. It would have also made it Finland's highest point.

"Border adjustments between countries raise challenging legal problems, among them linked to the Norwegian constitution," Prime Minister Erna Solberg wrote on Friday to the mayor of the northern town of Kaafjord, who had strongly favoured the proposal. The quirky gift idea ran against Article 1 of the Norwegian constitution, which stipulates that the Kingdom of Norway is "indivisible and inalienable."

Kaafjord Mayor Svein Leiros said: "I'm disappointed, but I respect the fact that the decision is up to the prime minister."

Infografik Halti Mountain

Norway says its constitution prohibits it from gifting Finland an Arctic mountain peak

The initiator of the campaign, retired Norwegian mapping expert Bjoern Geirr Harsson, refused to give up. "We will not take 'No' as an answer," he told the news agency Reuters. He lambasted how the first article of the Norwegian constitution was being interpreted, saying it reflected 19th century fears that the kingdom could be torn up during the Napoleonic Wars, not that a tiny patch of frozen ground could be conceded in the barren Arctic mountainside.

In an interview with DW earlier this year, Harsson said, "A lot of Finnish people have said it would really mean something to Finland. Also it's such a special case. You can't expect any other country to come and ask for a Norwegian area like this."

In December, Finland will celebrate 100 years of independence from the Russian empire. "We will instead consider another suitable gift to Finland on its anniversary," Solberg wrote.

dm/bw (AFP, Reuters)