Prime Ministers' border-crossing exercise

Dmitri Medvedev and Jens Stoltenberg walked cross the Norwegian, Russian border.

STORSKOG: Dmitri Medvedev and Jens Stoltenberg concluded the Barents Summit with a relaxed walk over the joint Norwegian, Russian border after getting their own visa-free ID-cards.


The two Prime Ministers drove directly to the Norwegian, Russian border check-point at Storskog after bi-lateral talks in Kirkenes following the Barents Summit on Tuesday.

Together they made a cross-border walk to the Russian border check-point at Borisoglebsk. During the Cold War, this very border was one of the most closed in Europe.

Storskog, Borisoglebsk is the only check-points on the Norwegian, Russian border and the northernmost land border between a Schengen member state and Russia. Last year, this very border become the first between a Schengen member state and Russia to allow for visa-free travel for local border residents.

In a ceremony at the border, Dmitri Medvedev got a personal ID-card from Cecilie Hansen, Mayor of Sør-Varanger municipality, while Jens Stoltenberg got a similar from Irina Neverova, Mayor of Pechenga Rayon. Then the two Prime Ministers walked the few meters to look at the Russian border check-point Borisoglebsk.

From being a near closed border during the Cold War, traffic has steadily increased since the early 90ies, with a boom in recent years. Over the last three years, traffic has doubled, from 100,000 a year to 250,000 last year. The number of border-crossings is expected to double again within the next three years.

Read BarentsObserver’s analyses of the border-crossing boom: Barents roadmap towards visa-freedom

No funding to build new check-point
The current Storskog check-point building is from 1991, with several small reconstructions since. Last expansion was last year with two more passport control desks in each direction. The inside space is however very tight and there are no roof over the control area outdoor where winter storms and darkness hinders an effective control regime. 

Last time Jens Stoltenberg visited Storskog, in 2007, he told reporters that funding to a new border check-point on the Norwegian side would come soon. Today Jens Stoltenberg told BarentsObserver that possible funding to a new and modern check-point to meet the boom in traffic is a question for the annual budgets (see video-interview under).

In the current 2013 budget, zero funding was given to a new check-point.