The Norwegian-Russian agreement on visa-free travel for people living in the border area will be signed when Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov visits Oslo on November 2nd. Speaking at the joint press-conferance with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev in Murmansk today, Norway’s Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg confirmed that the deal will be signed soon, but he did however not confirm the date.
Norway share a 196 km long border with Russia, and the negotiation regarding visa-freedom for the people lining in a 30 km zone on each side of the border has been under way since Sergey Lavrov visited northern Norway in the spring 2008. The agreement was first supposed to be signed during Russian President Dmitri Medvedev’s visit to Oslo in April, but the last few obstacles were then not solved. One of the problematic issues was regarding non-Norwegian citizens living within the Norwegian part of the border zone. The Russian position was first that only Norwegian citizens should be allowed to get the right to travel without visa. But, the Schengen-agreement says all Schengen-citizens should have the same rights. This issue is now solved and other Schengen-citizens that have lived longer than three years in Kirkenes will be included for visa-free border travel.