Shutting Norway border 'not off table': minister
Norway’s government has not ruled out shutting the country’s northern border with Russia, after an extraordinary meeting held on Friday to discuss record refugee numbers.
According to Norway's Dagbladet newspaper, the country's foreign and defence committee held an emergency meeting on Friday at the request of the government to discuss whether to close the country's northern border.
"Now it is not under discussion, but we have not taken it off the table," Norway's justice minister Anders Anundsen said after the meeting. "On the other hand, we are now carrying out intense diplomacy to determine whether the asylum seekers coming to Norway from Russia are something random, or whether it is happening with the Russian authorities' support. Once this has been clarified, Norway will issue a diplomatic reaction to Russia."
According to the website Aldrimer, Norway is considering closing the boundary under the rarely used, “Law on Access to Certain Areas”, which was brought in by the country’s parliament only weeks before Germany invaded in April 1940.
The meeting was attended by the country’s foreign minister Børge Brende, Anundsen, and defence minister Ine Eriksen Søreide.
Jon Karlsrudtangen, a retired judge who previously specialised in border law, told Aftenposten that it would be possible to shut the border under short notice using the law.
“The law makes it possible to close the border crossing. One could simply say that the border crossing at Storskog is not a border anymore, and that any crossing there is illegal,” Jon Karlsrud, a retired judge who previously specialised in border law, told Aftenposten.
Sources close to Brende told Dagbladet that closing the border was not under serious discussion, backing up a statement by Prime Minister Erna Solberg on Thursday night.
“These simple solutions which some people are tossing up into the air do not provide answers,” she said. “To close the border overnight is not an answer in the face of people who are walking in the cold,” she said during a debate on Norway’s NRK channel.
A record 196 asylum seekers cross the border at Storskog on Tuesday.