Commission proposes special passport for Kaliningrad after EU enlargement

The Commission has proposed a package of
measures to ease transit between Russia and the Russian enclave
of Kaliningrad after the EU enlarges to Lithuania and Poland.
Measures include a special transit document for Kaliningrad,
non-stop high-speed trains for visa-free travel and opening
discussion on a long-term goal of visa-free travel between
Russia and the EU.

The Commission proposes the following measures to ease the
direct transit of people and goods between Kaliningrad and
the rest of Russia once the enlargement of the EU has taken
place:

  • a “facilitated transit document” issued to those
    Russian citizens who need to travel frequently to and
    from Kaliningrad;
  • assessing the feasibility of non-stop high-speed
    trains passing through Lithuania and Belarus that could
    provide sufficient security for visa-free travel;
  • opening discussion on Russia’s proposal for a
    long-term goal of visa-free travel between Russia and the
    EU;
  • making full use of international conventions for
    simplified transit of goods.

 

To resolve the problem of transit between Russia and
Kaliningrad, Moscow has offered tighter controls on train
and bus tickets to and from its Kaliningrad enclave, and
non-stop trains through Lithuania. Russia also offered a
re-admission agreement to take back illegal immigrants. In
addition, Russia's President Vladimir Putin has proposed
visa-free travel between Russia and the EU as part of a new
strategic partnership. Russia had initially pushed for a
transport corridor that would allow its citizens to travel
visa-free between Kaliningrad and the mainland. However,
the EU rejected the proposal, insisting on an eased visa
regime.

 

Due to the EU's enlargement to Lithuania and Poland,
Russian citizens will not be able to travel without visas
between Russia and the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad from
1 July 2003 when the two Eastern European countries plan to
introduce visas for Russians.

 

The Commission's proposal will be discussed by the EU Heads
of States and Governments at the European Council in
Brussels on 24-25 October.

Moscow would like to reach an agreement
on Kaliningrad before the EU-Russia Summit in Copenhagen on
11 November. Russia threatened to boycott the summit if the
EU failed to respond positively to Mr Putin's
proposals.

 

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