Norway is negotiating with Moscow over the return of migrants who cross the two nations’ Arctic border and seek asylum in the Scandinavian country even though they have permits to stay in Russia.
Norwegian Foreign Minister Borge Brende and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov confirmed the negotiations, but Lavrov said on January 26 that Moscow is reluctant to take back migrants who lied to get into Russia.
“These are people who came to Russia to work or visit relatives. It was not stipulated there that a visit to Russia was a transit to Norway. So these people have announced false aims on their arrival in Russia," he said at a press conference.
"We do not want to receive again such people; they have breached our laws," he said.
"We agreed with the relevant Norwegian authorities that we will take a pause now and work out an algorithm which will allow for the resolution of this problem in the interests of Moscow and Oslo," Lavrov said.
Last year, 5,500 people crossed at the remote Arctic border, most of them Syrians seeking a better life in the West. So far, Norway has returned 230 of the migrants but Russia recently stopped taking them back, citing “security reasons.”
Based on reporting by AP and Interfax