1,2 million Schengen visas was issued by Finland to Russian citizens last year. This year, the figure will be even higher. Finland now counts for one third of all Schengen visas issued in Russia.
The 150 employees at the Finnish visa center in St. Petersburg are working double shift issuing visas. No other centers in the world are issuing more visas. Finland is also boosting the number of visas to Russian’s in the north, up 23 percent last year according to the Barents Secretariat publication Barents Review. The number of visas granted to Russians by Finland rose by 25 percent in the first six months this year compared with the same period 2011.
“I would like to thank Finland for its positive attitude toward granting visas,” Foreign Minister Lavrov said when visiting Helsinki in August. Russia’s approach is full visa-freedom with the EU. That will not happen tomorrow. The issue remains a key sticking point in Russian-EU relations.
Among Russians, Finland is seen as the easiest of the 26 Schengen member states to obtain a visa to. With a visa to Finland, Russians can travel freely to all other Schengen nations as long as Finland is the first and main country they visit. In practice, many Russians get a Finnish Schengen visa, cross the border to Finland for shopping and then travel further to other European countries. That is good business for Finland. Last year, Russian visitors spent around €1 billion in Finland, as reported by BarentsObserver.
Many other Schengen member states are critical to the liberal Finnish visa policy. Ex-diplomat Heikki Talvitie welcomes the flow of Russian shoppers to Finland, but suggest a better coordination of the rules.
“It can’t continue much longer like this. We need coordination between the Schengen countires, Talvities says to Huvudstadsbladet.
Russia’s only aircraft carrier, the Northern Fleet’s “Admiral Kuznetsov”, has finished repairs and is ready to leave the port of Murmansk. According to a Russian news agency, the vessel will sail to Syria.
A century and a half ago, Norway was home to roughly three thousand brown bears, the majority of bears in all of Scandinavia. By 1930, the bears were virtually extinct. Decades of aggressive management tactics and bounties had wiped out one of the area’s most iconic species.
Microplastics, the tiny plastic particles that are accumulating in marine waters and big lakes around the world, are now showing up in the Arctic waters south and southwest of Svalbard, Norway, a new study says.
REYKJAVIK: The climatic changes taking place in the Arctic are a call to action for the world. We must answer with more international cooperation and more research, says Tore Hattrem, State Secretary of Norway’s Foreign Ministry.
“Partnership should and shall shape the development of the Arctic, therefore cooperation is the starting point for our Arctic policy,” Vladimir Barbin, Senior Arctic Official and representative to the Arctic Council, said at the Arctic Circle 2015 assembly.
August 9th, the Barents Region celebrated the UN International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. The day was commemorated in several parts of the region, including Karasjok in Northern Norway and Teriberka in Northwestern Russia.
Norway’s Foreign Minister Børge Brende has asked Russia for an explanation to the high number of asylum seekers coming to Norway via Russia. Syrian refugees that have lived in Russia for a long time, will be stopped on the border and sent back.