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Norway may consider asylum requests from migrants Russia refuses to take back - PM

January 27, 1:34 UTC+3 TROMSO (Norway)
Last year, from August to December, more than 5,500 asylum seekers entered Norway by using the so-called "Arctic route" through Moscow, Murmansk and Nikel village
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TROMSO (Norway), January 26. /TASS/. The Norwegian authorities are ready to consider asylum requests from migrants arriving to Norway from Russia if Russia refuses to take them back, Prime Minister Erna Solberg told Norwegian News Agency NTB on Tuesday.

The prime minister also said the authorities would once again look into admissibility of deportation of Syrian nationals to Russia.

Last year, from August to December, more than 5,500 asylum seekers entered Norway by using the so-called "Arctic route" through Moscow, Murmansk and Nikel village. Those were mainly citizens of Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. A similar situation has been seen on the Russian-Finnish border in the past few weeks.

The flow of refugees seeking to get into Norway was stopped at the end of November, after which the issue of their return came up. Russia objects to the return of 4,800 migrants who received short-stay Russian visas to get to Norway across Russia or who sought asylum in Norway after the Federal Migration Service had ordered them to leave Russia.

At the end of last week, the Russian authorities temporarily stopped taking back the expelled refugees with long-stay visas to additionally coordinate the procedure of their return with the Norwegian side.

By the present moment, more than 400 asylum seekers having grounds for a long-term stay in Russia have been returned from Norway.

The Russian authorities will keep cooperating with Oslo on return to Russia of refuges who arrived in Norway across their common border, the Russian Embassy to Norway said in a statement circulated on Monday.

The embassy confirmed that last week the Russian side shut the border post for "foreign nationals or persons without citizenship, who had entered the Kingdom of Norway for obtaining the status of refugee".

This was done in compliance with a bilateral agreement on the Borisoglebsk-Storskog border crossing point, envisaging restrictions or closure of the border in case of an emergency, an epidemic or epizooty or for considerations of safety, it said. The latter was cited as the reason behind the decision in this case.

"The Russian side, however, is ready to continue cooperating with Norway in this sphere and intends to further comply with provisions of the Readmission Agreement of 2007," the statement said. It said Russian-Norwegian consultations were due shortly to discuss the situation.

Norwegian Foreign Minister Borge Brende told Tass on Monday that he hoped Norway and Russia would shortly coordinate a new procedure of return that would suit both sides.

He said Norway maintained a successful dialogue with Russia on refugees since autumn. The minister said thousands of asylum seekers had used to arrive in Norway across the Russian border, but due to mutual understanding achieved between the two countries the number of refugees sharply decreased.

He said the sides had agreed on the return to Russia of part of asylum seekers, but still disagreed as to the return of the holders of single entry visas to Russia, noting that a dialogue on that continued in an atmosphere of mutual understanding.

According to the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration, about 700 people with multi-entry visas, residence permit or other documents giving them the right to return to Russia and stay there, had crossed into Norway from Russia.

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