The Norwegian Government does not follow the recommendation from the Parliament’s Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence to give urgent funding to upgrade the only road check-point for border crossings between Norway and Russia. With booming traffic, today’s facilities are not sufficient.
Regional police authorities in charge of the check-point released their draft plan for a brand new border station in 2009.
Parliament: “Must start in 2013” In April, the Committee published its remarks to the Government’s White Paper on the High North, saying: “It is the Committee’s opinion that the planned construction of a brand new and top modern border station to meet the sharp increase in traffic over the border must start in 2013.”
The State Budget 2013 was released last week and had no cash for a new border station. That means the construction startup work will be delayed yet another year and best option for opening is now postponed till 2016.
Last summer, Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg told BarentsObserver that the Government is very aware of the situation with limited capacity at Storskog. “Many people say that to us. We will look into the situation,” Stoltenberg said.
“State-of-the-art border station” Head of the Norwegian Barents Secretariat, Rune Rafaelsen, fears lack of cash for a new border station would hamper business developments between the two countries.
“There are huge possibilities for developing businesses across the borders in the region, but a state-of-the-art border station with enough capacity to meet the boost is essential,” says Rune Rafaelsen. He also says new technology for immigration and vehicle control should be given to Storskog.
“Norway has only one land border crossing to Russia. Storskog should facilitate for easy and fast contacts between our two countries, not queues,” says Rafaelsen.
Current building from 1991 The current building at the check-point was built in 1991, with several small reconstructions since. Last expansion was earlier this year with one more passport control desk in each direction. More immigration officers are in place and from next year, Customs will also get extra resources. The inside space are however very tight and there are no roof over the control area outdoor where winter storms and darkness hinders an effective control regime.
Traffic boom Traffic over the border has doubled over the last three years and is expected to double again within the next three years, according to a scenario report published by the police. August and September this year were the two busiest months ever if counting number of border crossers. In September alone, 21.914 border crossings took place at Storskog, Borisoglebsk border station, up near 6.000 from the same month last year.
More and more Russians travel to Norway for shopping. A newly introduced visa-free regime for citizens living in a 30-kilometers zone on each side has triggered a sharp increase of Norwegians crossing into Russia for taking advantage of low-priced gasoline.
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.