Justice Minister Anders Anundsen said Tuesday that he had asked state police to sharpen identity controls at Norway’s borders, but hastily added that “we’re not setting up any fences” when he quickly faced political opposition.
“We’re in a situation where our asylum reception system is under heavy pressure,” Anundsen told news bureau NTB. “We think stronger border control can help, but we’re not setting up any fences.”
As record numbers of refugees, mostly from Syria, arrive in Norway, the ministry announced that “territorial control will be intensified at times and places where it can give police better knowledge about foreigners’ identities and background for their stay in Norway.” It will be up to the police to decide where the intensified border control will take place.
Jan Eirik Thomassen of the state police directorate told state broadcaster that he doesn’t think the general public will notice much difference, “only that we will be more visible at the border crossings.”
Anundsen also stressed the controls were in no way aimed at limiting refugees’ rights to seek asylum in Norway. As he headed into a new meeting with justice ministers from other European countries, he said that the “main challenge” was to strengthen control at Europe’s outward borders of its so-called Schengen area, within which free border crossing is supposed to be allowed.