Currently, the European Union is logistically unprepared to introduce the visa regime for residents of the Kaliningrad Region, Dmitry Rogozin, RF President's special envoy for the Kaliningrad Region, said, speaking live on the Mayak radio.
The Kaliningrad Region, Russia's enclave in the Baltic Sea area, is going to be separated from mainland Russia by the Schengen visa zone after neighbouring Poland and Lithuania join the EU.
Rogozin said that 960,000 railway and 620,000 automobile trips were made in 2001 between the Kaliningrad Region and mainland Russia. According to him, even after Poland and Lithuania have substantially upgraded their visa-processing facilities, they will be able to process no more than 50,000 and 150,000 visas a year respectively.
As an alternative solution of the problem Dmitry Rogozin proposed introduction of tighter passport control regime in the transit trains en route across Lithuania. Russia, he said, "is ready to supply information revealing identity of every passenger on board of each transit train". The train cars, however, should on no account be sealed up, RF President's envoy underscored.
Dmitry Rogozin said that he would leave for the Kaliningrad Region on 11 August to gain hands-on knowledge regarding the current condition of the region's major industrial enterprises and border-crossing checkpoints. He also plans to visit the port of Baltiysk which is gearing to launch a ferryboat service shortly.
Responding to a question concerning enhanced development of non-rail means of transport in the region, Dmitry Rogozin said that further expansion of regional passenger air traffic should certainly be promoted but only in case the air fare is made affordable for the population.
In Rogozin's opinion, the Baltiysk-based ferry boat service will not be able to solve the acute surface transport problems, with the ferry's average speed of about 12 knots making a trip to St.Petersburg as long as 32-35 hours. In future, however, when the ferries start moving faster, they are going to take a sizeable load off the railway traffic.
According to RF President's envoy, all issues pertaining to the status of the Kaliningrad Region, "should be addressed with due regard to both Russian and EU legislation". "We are ready for a constructive dialogue with the European Union, but there are limits to compromises we can accept and we are not going to go beyond these limits," Dmitry Rogozin said. He added that such vital problems as illegal immigration in Europe and effective combat against organized crime and transnational terrorism cannot be resolved without active Russia's participation.
"Russia's interests and national dignity must not suffer as a result of the forthcoming changes," Dmitry Rogozin pointed out. According to him, successful solution of the Kaliningrad Region problem will prove a major factor in "shaping up future Europe's configuration which will not materialize without Russia's participation".