Dmitry Rogozin, special representative of the Russian President on the problems of the Kaliningrad region and chairman of the State Duma's committee for international affairs, will conduct consultations in Brussels on Monday.
According to a RIA Novosti correspondent, Dmitry Rogozin is expected to arrive in the capital of the European Union at the end of the day. He plans to meet members of the European Commission who are responsible for foreign policy and the Union's expansion. They will discuss problems connected with the future status of the Kaliningrad region when it will become an enclave inside the expanded European Union. The introduction of a visa-free regime in relations between Russia and the European Union will be in the centre of attention of these consultations.
In the middle of September, the European Commission, on instructions of the EU Summit in Seville, will have to adopt a document which contains proposals concerning the solution to the Kaliningrad problem. This will be followed by the most intensive part of the negotiations which the sides hope to complete by the Russia-EU summit to be held in Copenhagen in November.
The working programme of Dmitry Rogozin is determined to a considerable extent by the message which Russian President Vladimir Putin sent late in August to the heads of state and government of the European Union and to the Chairman of the European Commission. The document contains a new integration initiative of Russia on developing the strategic partnership with the European Union. And this, in the President's opinion, calls for mutual free movement of citizens of Russia and of the European Union. He raised the question of ensuring unhindered transit of people and cargoes between the Kaliningrad region and the rest of Russia. In connection with this, the Russian President offered the heads of state and government of the European Union "a new integration initiative of Russia which provides for discussing from the practical point of view an ambitious aim: in the future to switch over to a visa free procedure of mutual trips of citizens of the Russian Federation and of the European Union." This, as a matter of fact, implies the entry of the Russian Federation into the Schengen zone.
The European Union has not expressed its official reaction so far to the message of Vladimir Putin. According to some data, however, the proposal of the Russian President was discussed at the informal meeting of EU Foreign Ministers in Denmark last Friday and Saturday.
In a RIA Novosti interview, a number of officials in Brussels pointed to the pragmatism of the Russian leader's position and expressed the hope that the discussion of the problem of the Kaliningrad region would be positive and productive.
The choice of the city of Helsinki is not incidental as the capital of Finland had hosted US-Soviet negotiations on the limitation of nuclear stockpiles in 1969