The participants in the Monday Duma (lower house) hearings "The Kaliningrad Region: International and Geopolitical Aspects of Russia's National Security" came out in support of Russian President Vladimir Putin's efforts to settle the Kaliningrad (Russia's western semi-enclave) region's problem.
During the discussions, the participants in the hearings laid particular stress on "the constructive potential and the far-reaching meaning" of the Russian president's initiative forwarded in his August 2002 messages to Chairman of the European Commission Romano Prodi, presidents and prime ministers of the EU member states, Lithuania and Poland.
The head of state called for an agreement related to the transition to a non-visa regime for mutual movements of Russian and the EU citizens, and introducing a simplified system of railway and automobile transit of Russian citizens and cargoes to the Kaliningrad region and from it.
The organizers of the event - Duma committees on security, international affairs, geopolitics - have drafted a project of recommendations to the Russian government, the Russian federal assembly (parliament) and bodies of state power of the Russian Federation.
According to Deputy Chairman of the Duma security committee Pavel Burdukov, the participants in the hearings will submit their proposals and remarks. The recommendations will be finally adopted in about a week.
The project of recommendations, in particular, suggests that the government base its complex program of measures to strengthen Russia's state sovereignty over the Kaliningrad region on "Major Directions and Principles of the Federal Policy with Regard to the Kaliningrad Region", "The Targeted Federal Program of the Kaliningrad Region's Development up to 2010", the federal law "On a Special Economic Zone in the Kaliningrad Region." The cabinet is recommended to provide funds in the 2003 draft budget for making up for additional expenses in view of cargo and passenger transits to the Kaliningrad region and from it via the territories of Latvia, Lithuania and Belarus.
The government is also to continue active negotiations with the EU and NATO's official structures, state bodies of the EU and NATO's member states as well as the Baltic states and Poland, in the interests of the Kaliningrad region in view of the EU's coming expansion.
The federal assembly is recommended to join hands with the Russian government, the Kaliningrad region's administration and the Kaliningrad regional Duma to see to it that by the end of this year the federal law "On a Special Economic Zone in the Kaliningrad Region" is adopted in a new wording.
In his summing up remarks on the hearing, the Russian president's special envoy for the Kaliningrad problem Dmitry Rogozin stressed that a really compromise decision needs to be taken on Kaliningrad but in such a way that it does not look as a concession to either side.
There is still an opportunity to reach a mutually acceptable agreement, Rogozin assured. Rogozin deems it possible to ensure a free and secure transit of Russian citizens to the Kaliningrad region and from it, only if not in circumvention of the Schengen agreement.
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