Norwegian and Russian authorities continue to disagree on several cases involving the status of asylum seekers trying to enter Norway from Russia. Around 100 people have been sent back to Russia during the past week, but Russia isn’t accepting all of them.
Norwegian authorities contend the Russian rejections amount to a violation of an immigration agreement between Norway and Russia. “We maintain that Russia, in accordance with the agreement, is obligated to receive all of those we have deported or tried to deport,” Jøran Kallmyr, state secretary in the justice ministry, told news bureau NTB on Sunday.
Norway has repeatedly claimed that anyone holding residence permission in Russia does not quality for aylum in Norway, because they’re already in a “safe” country. Russia has earlier declared it was willing to repatriate rejected asylum seekers. Several of those sent back to Russia recently have been refused re-entry, however, forcing Norway to take them back, at least temporarily. All are now in police custody at a new holding facility in Kirkenes, awaiting other means of deportation.
The “ping-pong” aspects of the asylum seeker conflicts between Russian and Norwegian border authorities worry officials in the Norwegian township of Sør-Varanger, which has enjoyed open borders for local residents and been good neighbours with Russia. “We have NOK 1.7 billion worth of trade with Russia, and our relations with our neighbours are very important to us,” Sør-Varanger Mayor Rune Rafaelsen told newspaper VG. “It’s tragic with conflicts at the border, and they can be damaging in the long term.”