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Swedish town hopes for Russian revival

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Swedish town hopes for Russian revival
09:04 CEST+02:00
Sorsele, a town in the far north of Sweden, is hoping to attract highly-qualified Russian immigrants in a move aimed at arresting depopulation and ensure the municipality's future.

"The initiative is part of a broad and long term review of our labour market and our needs over the coming ten years," municipal councillor Rune Tovetjärn told The Local on Monday.

"We want to see if we can tempt young people that have moved from Sorsele to return, and we want to see if there is an interest from skilled labour in Russia and other densely populated areas of Europe - such as the Netherlands," he said.

The municipality has suffered from depopulation and an ageing labour force for some time and is currently home to only 2,800 people, the second lowest in Sweden.

Last week a delegation from Sorsele visited the Russian municipality of Apatity on the Kola Peninsula as part of a campaign to attract well-educated families with children.

"Within ten years we need to recruit more than 100 people to various qualified professions: doctors, nurses, teachers, economists, technicians and so on," Tovetjärn said.

Sorsele has chosen to focus part of its campaign on Apatity as it already holds friendship links and aims to attract people used to living in the countryside.

"We have well established links with the area and it is easier to 'sow seeds in fertile land than to break new ground'," he said.

As part of the broad campaign to arrest the slide in residents of a working age, the municipality is also hoping to attract Dutch entrepreneurs to work within the tourist industry.

Tovetjärn told The Local that while no direct funds will be provided to try to tempt families to move to Sorsele, which borders Norway in the Swedish province of Lappland, he is hopeful that the municipality has a lot to offer.

"If you want a relative good life, with cheaper living; if you want to experience a verdant nature, with open spaces and fantastic skiing, then Sorsele is an excellent choice," he said.

The municipality hopes to attract two to four families with children within two years and while the government has described the labour migration scheme as exciting, the municipality can not expect to receive any state financial support.

"Other rural municipalities will follow suit if it is successful. The municipalities are however independent and can not expect any financing from the state," migration minister Tobias Billström told the local Västerbotten-Kuriren daily.

Sorsele plans however to invest in the education of their prospective residents with language courses and other preparatory programmes planned as part of the initiative to ensure that those seeking to come to Sweden are suitable for the challenge.

"From Russia we are looking for people used to living in the countryside," Rune Tovetjärn told The Local.

Sorsele currently receives state funding for accepting quota refugees, unaccompanied children and boat refugees and has a current agreement to accept 100 arrivals, of which 50 places are already filled.

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