The High North Tour 2021: The Border towards Russia both Separates and Unites Us

The border between Norway and Russia is thoroughly described in a 1,000-page document. “That is hard to bring with you along the border”, says Border Commissioner Jens-Arne Høilund. (Photo: Arne O. Holm)

Pasvik: Border Commissioner Jens-Arne Høilund is in charge of solving any potential border conflict with Russia. “Some argue that the border is there to separate. Others argue that it also unites”, Høilund says to High North News.

Even during the pandemic, the border commissioner is in close contact with his Russian counterparts.

“We have 12-15 meetings annually on commissioner level. My associates are in weekly contact with their partners on the other side [of the border]. Cooperation is good, with a good exchange of information. During the pandemic, the contact is quite similar, though everything happens on the phone these days. Like for everyone else, the personal relations with Russia are different, and that is a shame”, Jens-Arne Høilund says.

Høilund also praises good people-to-people relations in the High North.

“The local population here has an all-right relationship with Russia, albeit with limitations due to Covid-19. We, on our side, must be aware that Russian authorities monitor the border, and they expect us to respect it as a national border, which it is, after all.”

I meet with Høilund literally on the border. That could not have happened on the Russian side of the border.

“There is a quite different regime along the Russian side of the border than on ours. Their focus is different, and the area is not available for civilian personnel”, says Border Commissioner Jens-Arne Høilund.

You can watch the entire interview with the border commissioner on top of this page. (Subtitles available in English.)

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This article was originally published in Norwegian and has been translated by HNN's Elisabeth Bergquist.