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Norway Town May Join Sweden

May 17, 2002

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OSLO, Norway (AP) _ The Arctic town of Narvik got the media attention it was looking for when it threatened to secede from Norway and join neighboring Sweden to protest Oslo’s policies.

Narvik, about 225 kilometers north of the Arctic Circle, has long complained that the central government has cut half its public service jobs in recent years.

Proposals from Oslo, about 682 miles to the south, to close the local airport and customs office proved too much for the town of 18,500 people.

``Narvik has no advantages from belonging to Norway,″ local Mayor Olav Sigurd Alstad was quoted as telling newspapers. ``The question is whether we should join Sweden.″

His deputy, Per Henrik Moerk, said the idea came up at a city management meeting this week and will be discussed at a late May city council meeting, although he conceded the measure stemmed more from a need for publicity than a real desire to separate from Norway.

``We had to do something to attract attention to our problems,″ Moerk said by telephone. ``We’re not really going to join Sweden.″

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