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Finnmark, Murmansk welcomes visa-freedom

Newly appointed Murmansk Governor Marina Kovtun welcomes the Finnmark delegation. From left Runar Sjåstad, Markus Karlsen, Tore Gundersen, Rune Rafaelsen and Øyvind Nordsletten. Photo: Heather Yundt.

Finnmark Governor Runar Sjåstad had first meeting with newly appointed Murmansk Governor Marina Kovtun two weeks before introduction of visa-freedom in the border areas between the two neighbors.

Location

“We expect an increase flow of tourists among the residents in the border areas between Murmansk and Finnmark,” Marine Kovtun said at the meeting with the regional delegation from Norway on Tuesday.

Runar Sjåstad expressed a hope that the visa-freedom in the border areas will promote even more the ongoing dialogue between Finnmark and Murmansk. He also highlighted the prospects for collaboration in economic development across the border.

The agreement on visa-free travel for inhabitants in the Norwegian-Russian border areas enters force on May 29. The day after, Norway’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jonas Gahr Støre arrives in Kirkenes to witness the issuing of the first documents for visa-free border crossing to Russia. The area covered by visa-freedom for local residents includes Kirkenes on the Norwegian side and the municipality of Pechenga on Russia’s Kola Peninsula.

Traffic across the Norwegian-Russian border has been increasing steadily for the last years, and the introduction of visa-free travel is expected to give the development an even further push.