Several EU countries to reject Commission proposal on Kaliningrad

France, Spain, Italy and Greece are expected to
reject the Commission’s proposal to introduce a special transit
document for Kaliningrad after EU enlargement, and to consider
the sealed train idea instead.

According to EU diplomats, France, Spain, Italy and Greece
intended to block Commission proposals at the Foreign
Ministers meeting in Brussels on 30 September. They are
interested in preserving their good relations with Russia’s
President Vladimir Putin who threatened to boycott the
EU-Russia Summit on 11 November unless a satisfactory
compromise on Kaliningrad is reached.

 

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.

On 18 September 2002, the Commission
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 (for details of the proposal see

EURACTIV, 19
September 2002

).

 

The Commission's proposal is one of the main items on the
agenda of the External Affairs Council on 30 September.

It will also 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.

 

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