Cross-border traffic, visa issues and infrastructure questions will be on the agenda in the two-day meeting between Jonas Gahr Støre and Sergey Lavrov next week. The meeting starts in the Norwegian border town of Kirkenes and then continues in Murmansk. The meeting comes only few days after the two men met in Illulisat, Greenland
Big expectations have been made ahead of the meeting. The two countries have a common 200 km land border and share huge waters in the Barents Sea. As oil and gas development picks pace in the region, both countries face mounting logistical and environmental challenges. From the Norwegian side, the establishment of a joint industrial and economic zone in the two countries’ borderland has been proposed. In addition, Norway and Russia have still not agreed about the delineation of a 175,000 square km area.
The meeting could have been the event for big news in Norwegian-Russian relations. However, no breakthrough is expected this time.
In an interview with newspaper Nordlys, Minister Støre says that it is “the close issues which are the big political topic between Norway and Russia”, and that the disputed zone will only be mentioned as one of many issues.
The meetings in Kirkenes and Murmansk still are a strong signal about the importance of the region. The big joint challenges in the High North will continue to be on top of the Norwegian-Russian agenda for many years to come.