After months of negotiations, the EU and the Russian federation have finalised plans for travel arrangements for Russian citizens travelling to and from the enclave of Kaliningrad, which after the EU enlargement eastwards in 2004, will be surrounded by EU countries and cut off from mainland Russia.
Agreement was also reached on documents covering organised crime, illegal immigration and terrorism. President Vladimir Putin described the day’s discussions as proof that there is “an enormous possibility for expanding our cooperation”, adding that the positions between the parties were close “and even identical on many issues”.
The EU Commission President, Romano Prodi, also declared that the two sides were “very close to reaching our goals”. He mentioned the recent reforms in Russia which he claimed would pave the way for increased investment by the EU in the Russian Federation.
Recent tension over Chechnya was sidelined when President Putin declared that everything should be done to repair the diplomatic relations between Russia and Denmark, which were soured by Copenhagen’s insistence to hold the Chechen World Congress.
Regarding the issue of Kaliningrad, multiple-entry transit papers will be used by Russian citizens travelling between mainland Russia and the enclave, while Lithuania will exercise a policy of flexibility on its border controls.
On the issue of terrorism, there will be closer cooperation between the two sides. Information will be exchanged by the authorities of the Russian Federation and the EU countries on terrorist networks.
John ASHTEAD PRAVDA.Ru LONDON UNITED KINGDOM