Visa access remains a problem for northern cooperation
Norway government turned down local initiative
Barents Observer is reporting that The Norwegian Foreign Ministry has turned down a proposal on extended visa services for the Russians living in the border areas to Norway. Meanwhile, people on the Russian side of the border say they are frustrated about the awkward processes of getting Norwegian visas.
For years politicians have been talking about need for extended cooperation in the northern border zone. The Norwegian Barents Secretariat has supported many projects and arranged a range of conferences. The visa issue remain the biggest obstacle for labor flow and trade between Russia and the neighbor countries. Today citizens in Nikel town, living 30 km from Kirkenes, must travel 200 km to Murmansk in order to get to the Norwegian consulate. A new proposal from Sør-Varanger Municpality was to arrange at least one day weekly visa service in Nikel. The Pomorzone initiative is one of the more highly profiled balloons flagged by the Foreign Ministry in Norway themselves. Even a Barents citizen passport has been discussed. This is another example that the making of practical steps is far more difficult than the talking. The northern border council includes 15 municipalities in the north. Sør-Varanger municipality is one. Even their mayor Ms. Linda Randal gets nowhere with her initiative. When will national authorities do more than talking about cooperation in the north ? Read more about this at Barents Observer.