Today saw the opening of a seminar entitled The New Hanseatic League in Partnership with Russia's Historic Towns in Novgorod. The seminar will run for two days. According to the Novgorod administration's press centre, representatives of the following towns from Ancient Rus: Tikhvin, Ivangorod, Tver, Pskov, Old Ladoga and Ustyug the Great, along with Ingrid Harlevi, the vice-president of the Hanseatic League, and Manfred Shurkamp, a member of the Hanseatic Commission, will take part in the seminar.
The seminar will discuss the priorities for further cooperation between the towns, which have well-established historical relations, and the direction that this cooperation should take. Ancient Novgorod's convenient location at the crossroads of trade routes made it a hugely important centre for both Russian and international trade. Novgorod's regular contact with the island of Gotland (from the 10th century), German towns and Hansa (from the 12th to the 14th centuries), Sweden (in the 17th century, and other towns and countries lead to the appearance of major trading establishments in the town: the Gotland, German and Swedish merchants' yards.
Novgorod joined the International Hanseatic League in 1993. The league's membership consists of over 200 towns that constituted the Hanseatic League of the middle ages. In the same year the Hanseatic Commission began a project to restore St. Nicholas' Cathedral in Novgorod, a unique monument of the middle ages. USD 1,004,715 have been spent on the restoration, of which USD 374,851 were contributed by towns of the Hanseatic League. Novgorod is proposing to host the International Hanseatic Days in 2009, an event in which all the league's members take part.