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Sunday, May 22, 2022

Visa-free zone for Norway and Russia

Norway’s border with Russia opened up, at least a bit, this week when the two countries agreed on a visa-free zone that will allow residents on both sides of the border to cross it more easily.

Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre (right) was clearly pleased to sign another border agreement with his Russian counterpart, Sergej Lavrov, in Oslo on Tuesday. PHOTO: Utenriksdepartement/Kjetil Elsebutangen

Residents can apply for a so-called grenseboerbevis (border traffic permit) that Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre said will “significantly simplify travel for border residents, and will thus facilitate increased contact between Norway and Russia.”

Støre called the agreement “an important step towards opening the border area for even closer contact and cooperation between Norway and Russia.”

The deal was signed by Støre and Russian Foreign Minister Sergej Lavrov during a ministerial meeting in Oslo on northern issues that involved several other countries including Sweden and representatives for the European Union.

Russians and Norwegians living within a 30 kilometers of the border, plus the entire territory of Korzunovo municipality, can apply for the permit that will allow visits of up to 15 days at a time.

An estimated 9,000 residents of Sør-Varanger on the Norwegian side and 45,000 persons on the Russian side will be covered by the agreement.

It’s the latest in a series of new pacts between Norway and Russia, which signed an historic border agreement covering the Barents Sea earlier this year. Støre said he and Lavrov have “set ambitious goals” for cross-border cooperation in such areas as “petroleum extraction, energy efficiency, tourism, the environment and maritime safety.”

Lavrov called the agreement “important, a little step” on cross-border issues.

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