Ukraine Crisis Condemns Russia, Not the Russian People

Lena Norum Bergeng og Anniken Huitfeldt.
Sør-Varanger Mayor Lena Norum Bergeng (Labor, left) and Norwegian Foreign Minister Anniken Huitfeldt (Labor) met at the Kirkenes Conference 2022. (Photo: Ksenia Novikova, the Barents Secretariat)

The Russian people are our neighbors, our family our friends and colleagues, says Sør-Varanger Mayor Lena Norum Bergeng (Labor).

On Thursday morning, the North Norwegian border town Kirkenes woke up to a neighboring country having gone to war with Ukraine.

Sør-Varanger Mayor Lena Norum Bergeng (Labor) addressed the dramatic news at the beginning of day two of the Kirkenes Conference.

“The message we feared has come. Russia has gone to war against Ukraine. As a mayor I would like to say that I at any time support the Norwegian government, the Norwegian Armed Forces and Norway’s security policy”, said a clearly impacted mayor from stage.

Guro Brandshaug.
Leder av Kirkeneskonferansen Guro Brandshaug. (Foto: Trine Jonassen)
Leader of the Kirkenes Conference Guro Brandshaug. (Photo: Trine Jonassen)

“We condemn Russia’s aggression towards a sovereign state; however, we do not condemn the Russian people. The Russian people are our neighbours, our family, our friends, and colleagues. My job as a mayor is to maintain dialogue and the good cooperation with our neighbors in the east”, Bergeng said in closing.

Leader of the Kirkenes Conference Guro Brandshaug said she has received a lot of questions about the continuing of the Kirkenes Conference.

“We will continue our good cooperation. The program on day two of the conference is as relevant as ever, focusing on development and opportunities in the High North. When it is hard to keep a conversation going, it is even more important that we do just that”, Brandshaug says.

This article was originally published in Norwegian and has been translated by HNN's Elisabeth Bergquist.