In connection with the Second Ministerial Meeting of the Northern Dimension in Oslo on 2 November, Norway and Russia have signed an agreement on facilitation of travel for border residents in Norway and Russia.
Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre said, “The agreement on a local border traffic regime will significantly simplify travel for border residents, and will thus facilitate increased contact between Norway and Russia. This is an important step towards opening the border area for even closer contact and cooperation between Norway and Russia”.
Residents in those parts of Norway and Russia that lie within 30 kilometres of the border, as well as in the entire territory of Korzunovo municipality, will be eligible to apply for a local border traffic permit. The holder will be permitted to stay for up to 15 days at a time in the border area of the other state without a visa. About 9 000 persons in Sør-Varanger municipality on the Norwegian side and 45 000 persons in Pechenga rayon on the Russian side will be covered by the agreement.
Minister of Local Government and Regional Development Liv Signe Navarsete said, “The agreement will strengthen regional cooperation in the north and facilitate increased onshore activity, both in the tourism sector and in other economic sectors. It will also provide make people-to-people cooperation between our two countries.”
On the Norwegian side, the negotiations on the local border traffic regime have been led by the Ministry of Justice and the Police, which will also be responsible for coordinating implementation.
Minister of Justice Knut Storberget said, “I am very pleased that we have concluded this agreement. We have recently also strengthened our cooperation with the Russian authorities in the justice sector. We have put in place an agreement on the readmission of persons without legal residence, and it is functioning well.”
The local border traffic regime is an element in a larger process aimed at facilitating more cooperation across the Norwegian-Russian border. Foreign Ministers Støre and Lavrov have set ambitious goals for the further cooperation between Norway and Russia, and a joint declaration on enhanced Norwegian-Russian cross-border cooperation was also signed today.
Foreign Minister Støre said, “The joint declaration on enhanced cross-border cooperation demonstrates that Russia and Norway have a common agenda as regards development of our cooperation in the north. There is great potential for further cooperation in areas such as petroleum extraction, energy efficiency and tourism. We also have a lot to gain from intensifying our cooperation on the environment and maritime safety.”
“Getting cross-border cooperation to work, requires good procedures for border crossing, labour migration and customs clearance. A lot can still be done to improve the current arrangements. These are therefore key issues in the joint declaration,” said Foreign Minister Støre.
The two foreign ministers will follow up on the work on the areas covered by the joint declaration at their regular meetings.