His first visit to Murmansk in 1989 sparked interest in learning more about the language. Hanne and a few friends scoured the streets of the world’s largest city above the Arctic Circle in search of a place to eat.
“How should we know that РЕСТОРАН actually spells restaurant,” she says today with a smile.
“I have decided never to be hungry again in Russia.”
At the time, Hanne enrolled to study journalism at Bodø University College in northern Norway.
Writing for the Nordlands Framtid newspaper, Hanne Meldgaard made several visits to Russia in the 1990s. “Borders opened and cooperation between Norway and Russia took shape,” she says.
The newly appointed Consul General in Murmansk joined the Foreign Service in 1999. This was when Norway chaired the Barents Euro-Arctic Council, and Hanne Meldgaard worked with the Barents Secretariat to facilitate regional cross-border cooperation with the northwest corner of Russia.
Barents Cooperation was originally initiated by Russia and the Nordic countries to contribute to international stability, progress, peace and security in the region where partnership should replace the confrontation and division of the past .
Today, this cooperation is a thing of the past.
With the Kremlin’s bloody war against Ukraine, the Nordic member countries of Sweden, Finland and Norway, like the rest of the Western countries, ended collaboration with Russia in international structures such as the Council of Barents and the Arctic Council.
“The unfortunate times we find ourselves in now make it impossible to predict what next year will bring,” Hanne Meldgaard told the Barents Observer.
“The Norwegian consulate in Murmansk will continue to work for mutual cooperation, but circumstances will decide the details and results of these efforts.”
As well as working as a journalist and later as a foreign service diplomat, Hanne Meldgaard has military training as a crew member on the P-3 Orion, the maritime surveillance aircraft that takes off from Andøya Airbase in northern Norway for missions over the Norwegian and Barents Seas. This was before his first visit to Murmansk in 1989.
At the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Meldgaard served in several Norwegian embassies around the world, including New Delhi and Sarajevo.
“Most of the time, I have worked in regions other than the North over the past 20 years. The last time I was in Murmansk, about 10 years ago, I filled in for the consul general for a few weeks,” she says.
Hanne Meldgaard will be the 12th Consul General of Norway’s northernmost diplomatic mission. She succeeds Astrid Nærum who had been at the helm for two years.
The top ten were Erik Svedahl, Ole Andreas Lindeman, Øyvind Nordsletten, Jon Elvedal Fredriksen, Rune Aasheim, Fredrik Arthur, Robert Kvile, Otto Hjorth Mamelund, Odd Gunnar Skagestad and Knut Hauge.
The Consulate General is temporarily located on the sixth floor of an office building at Projezd Kapitana Tarana 25. By 2024, a brand new building is planned to be built on Zavoskaya Street, a secondary road between Lenin Prospect and Kirov Prospect.
Norway has an embassy in Moscow and a consulate general in Saint Petersburg. The Murmansk Consulate is also responsible for Arkhangelsk Oblast and the Nenets Autonomous Okrug.
Norway established its consulate general in Murmansk in 1993 and is, along with Finland and Belarus, the only one to have a diplomatic mission in Russia’s Arctic capital.
Today, there is only one Norwegian living permanently in Murmansk besides the diplomatic staff of the Consulate General.