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Karelia Passage
Funded by Euregio Karelia Neighbourhood Programme 2001-2006

Objective of the project

The international border station in Värtsilä's Niirala is Finland's third busiest border guard station. The bottlenecks in increasing cross-border business activities in the central Karelia–Sortavala region were the lack of available land zoned for business activity, the lack of services supporting different types of company and border activities, the limited possibility for border operations and the arrangement of funding for the necessary infrastructure improvements to promote business activity. Together with officials and entrepreneurers, the Karelia Gateway project was to assess the needs of the urban economy and industry and to initiate the planning of land use from their perspectives.

Main activities

• to create a shared central Karelia–Sortavala regional land-use plan that would promote the operational environment for entrepreneurship.


A land-use oriented overall understanding was formed during the project regarding how a border crossing point functions, what type of development prospects border operations have at the Värtsilä-Niirala border crossing, and how its development activities should be continued. The project created a report containing a plan which evaluated the development of the area from the land-use perspective as well as more extensively for future zoning use of municipalities. In order to increase land-use co-operation, a regular operational link was also established with the management of the Town of Sortavala. During the project, commercial and residential activities as well as the transport development prerequisites were assessed in particular, primarily in the region between Onkamo and Sortavala. The project also researched the possibility of increasing the border region's appeal, in particular from the central Karelian perspective, and created an operational plan in order to increase the attractiveness and continue the positive growth of the area. Co-operation (border crosser study, seminars, negotiations) with the border crossing service centre also created an understanding of the expectations of industry and how the development of industry in the border region is ensured. The project highlighted the operational problems at the border crossing; therefore, principle guidelines, propositions and operational recommendations were made in order to solve them. One of the central issues in the research was the road network, its safety, the seamless flow of traffic and how the main road could be developed into a highway as well as the development of the city depending on it.

Basic information


Karelia Passage


2002-01-01 - 2003-06-30

Total Budget / Programme funding

86 478 € / 60 535 €

Lead partner

Tohmajärvi Municipality
Lead partner web-site


Town of Sortavala