The Storskog-Borisoglebsk border crossing point is today only open from 7 a.m. to 21 p.m. (Norwegian time) and this hampers the development of cross-border trade and business between Norway and Russia in the north.
The Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence says in their comments to next year’s state budget that the Storskog border station in the future should be able to deal with all kinds of cargo and therefore a 24h opening service will contribute to this.
The first talks between the two countries regarding extended opening hours at the border started back in 2004, when the Norwegian Foreign Ministry’s State Secretary Kim Traavik met with Northwest-Russia’s Super-governor Ilya Khlebanov at the border. The two parties then made a principal agreement that the border should extend its opening with three hours more.
Since then nothing has happened.
On the 25th of June 2007 the Norwegian Foreign Ministry sent a note to the Russian Foreign Ministry informing that Norway was ready to extend the opening hours already from July the same year. Later, Norway has raised the issue regarding the opening hours on several occasions.
In June 2008, both Norway’s Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre and Russia’s Sergey Lavrov visited both Storskog border station and the nearby Russian station at Borisoglebsk. Both agreed in principal again that the opening time should be extended.
Several Norwegian and Russian business companies and interest organisations have been pushing the authorities to extend the opening hours at the Norway’s border to Russia.
Some years back, the Norwegian Seafood Federation (FHL) and the export company Troika Seafood said the limited opening hours was a problem for the strongly growing Norwegian fish export to Russia.
Over the last year, the number of people crossing the border is increasing and the queues are often long, especially with Russian’s driving to Norway.
Last year, a working group on the Norwegian side presented a report outlining ways to expand the border station at Storskog to meet the increase in traffic. Such new border station did however not got funding on Norway’s 2011 state budget.
Last month, Norway and Russia signed an agreement on visa-free travel for people living in the near-border areas including the Norwegian town of Kirkenes and the two Russian towns of Nikel and Zapolyarny. It is however not clear yet when the visa-freedom agreement will be implemented.