Newspaper article International New York Times

Norway Weighs Giving Arctic Peak to Finland ; the Gift of Mount Halti, on Border, Would Mark Country's 100th Birthday

Newspaper article International New York Times

Norway Weighs Giving Arctic Peak to Finland ; the Gift of Mount Halti, on Border, Would Mark Country's 100th Birthday

Article excerpt

A movement is afoot to turn over the summit of Mount Halti, on the border of the two countries, to Finland.

What to give the country that has everything? How about a 4,478- foot Arctic mountain peak?

Mount Halti is often billed as the highest mountain in Finland. But its summit is, in fact, in neighboring Norway.

To help commemorate the 100th anniversary of Finland's declaration of independence from Bolshevik Russia on Dec. 6, 1917, a group of Norwegians are urging their government to move a point on its border with Finland some 490 feet to the north, and 650 feet to the east, so that Halti's peak will reside in Finland.

If Norway goes through with the hard-to-wrap birthday gift, Halti would become Finland's highest mountain peak.

"There are a few formal difficulties, and I have not yet made my final decision," Norway's prime minister, Erna Solberg, told the national broadcaster NRK this past week. "But we are looking into it."

The proposed gift is the brainchild of Bjorn Geirr Harsson, a 76- year-old retired employee of the Norwegian Mapping Authority, who first got the idea in 1972, when he was taking measurements in a plane flying across the border.

"I was taken aback by why on earth they had not received this peak," he told NRK last year. "We would not have to give away any part of Norway. It would barely be noticeable. And I'm sure the Finns would greatly appreciate getting it."

The straight line that marks the Finnish-Norwegian border in the area of Mount Halti -- drawn in the mid-18th century -- is "geophysically illogical," Mr. Harsson said.

Geir Leiros, the mayor of Kafjord, a community near the border, supports the gift. "It will cost us so little, nothing in fact, but I think it would mean a lot to the Finns," he said.

The potential border revamp has been largely embraced in Finland, a proud if somewhat flat nation that had been part of the Russian Empire for more than a century, until two revolutions in 1917: one that overthrew the czarist regime, and a second that established a Bolshevik republic that eventually became the Soviet Union. …

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