The first official Russian-EU consultations on the problem of the Kaliningrad region, Russia's enclave in the Baltic, were held in Brussels on Wednesday.
The parties expressed their stands and remained with their disagreements. They promised to continue seeking a mutually acceptable solution for the region's communication with the rest of Russia after Poland and Lithuania join the EU.
The Brussels meeting was attended by high ranking representatives of the European Commission, Fris Petersen, state secretary of the foreign ministry of Denmark, which is currently chairing the EU, and Russian deputy foreign minister Sergei Razov.
The consultations were of technical character. The final decision on Russian citizens' transit to Kaliningrad and back via the EU territory is expected by the October EU-Russian summit, yet Razov told journalists that the deadline for the negotiations had not been set.
The parties' stands remain quite tough. Russia insists on a visa-free transit for its citizens via the EU territory. Moscow is satisfied with the current transit regime, Razov said. Citizens of 45 countries outside the EU and Schengen zone have a right of visa-free trips to the EU, he pointed out. Thus, it is possible for Russia as well, without revising the Schengen convention, which is the EU law.
The European representatives said the EU was ready to make different concessions, except for abolishing European visas for Russians. No country alone or the European Commission is entitled to changing the law. A compromise may only be found within the Schengen.
The EU offers to help Russia in setting a system for quick and simplified issuing of Schengen visas, even multiple ones, to make visas cheap at the mutual basis, to create the necessary infrastructure and to render assistance in social and economic development of the Kaliningrad region. European officials assure that the proposed regime will simplify and quicken the transition of borders, compared with the current regime.