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From Titovka to geopolitical infrastructure

Head of the Norwegian Storting's Standing Committee on Transport and Infrastructure Knut Arild Hareide (right) at Titovka Road Café together with parliament members Hallgeir Langeland (left) and Lars Myraune. Photo: Thomas Nilsen

MURMANSK: The barracks today housing Titovka Road Café was nearly 20 years ago the start of Norwegian, Russia transport and logistics cooperation. Knut Arild Hareide from the Norwegian Parliament now wants to take the joint work to a new level.

Location

Knut Arild Hareide is the head of the Parliament’s Standing Committee on Transport and Communication. He made a short stop at the café when traveling with the committee from Kirkenes to Murmansk earlier this week. The barracks that are housing the small café and a motel were in the early 90ies brought in to the Kola Peninsula by Norwegian road officials to house the workers involved in a joint snow plowing project.

Clearing snow of the Arctic roads in the Norwegian, Russian borderland is no longer an issue when officials meet to discuss infrastructure means beneficial for both countries. 

Borderland transport infrastructure
Together with the parliamentarians was a high-ranking delegation from Norwegian road, port, aviation and railway authorities. In Murmansk, they discussed how the two countries transport infrastructure could be developed to meet the new speedy developments in the north.

“Norway has a strong desire to continue the cooperation with Russia,” Knut Arild Hareide told local Russian authorities.

Both Norway and Russia are discussing how to develop ports in the north to meet the expected increase in cargo to sail the Northern Sea Route as the Arctic ice-cap melts. Murmansk is a provincial city in Russia, but gets a lot of attention from its western neighbor.

Igor Chernyshenko is Deputy Head of the regional parliament in Murmansk.

“The fact that such a large delegation didn’t go to the capital, but to the provincial Murmansk, is to me a clear signal that the Norwegians adequately assess the role of Murmansk in the Russian-Norwegian relations,” Chernyshenko said.

Changing the geopolitical map
Discoveries of new oil- and gas fields in addition to the booming mining in the Barents Region are changing the geopolitical map of the Arctic. From being a remote located region, the borderland between Norway, Finland and Russia are now in the centre of new trading routes between the markets in Europe and Asia.

Norway’s increased interest to develop cooperation with Murmansk was easy to see in the official corridors in Murmansk last week. Meeting each others in the doors between meetings, also the parliament’s Standing Committee on Energy and the Environment was in Russia’s largest Arctic city from Wednesday to Friday.  

Most top-officials from Norway ever
A third Norwegian delegation in town was the prestigious Norwegian Defense College consisting of both military officers and civilians.

Øyvind Nordsletten is Norwegian Consul General in Murmansk.   

“Never before has so many high ranking officials from Norway been in Murmansk at the same time,” Nordsletten said at the reception Thursday night. In total, some few hundred Norwegians and Russians guests took part.