'Lithuania is not opposed to a visa-free connection between the Kaliningrad Region and the rest of Russia, but we have to comply with the EU's requirements,' announced Lithuanian Prime Minister Algirdas Brazauskas at a press conference on Thursday. The Prime Minister arrived in the village of Chistye Prudy in the Kaliningrad Region for the ceremonial opening of a museum devoted to the Lithuanian author Kristionas Donelaitis. The museum had been closed for a year for restoration.
'We are completely satisfied with the current visa-free regime for Russian passenger and freight transport through the territory of Lithuania,' said Brazauskas. 'However, we will have to introduce visas if Russia does not manage to reach an agreement with the European Union. As a candidate for entry into the EU we have no choice other than to take up the position required by the EU leadership. Of course, we will be able to create a convenient system for providing visas to everyone who crosses our borders'.
The Prime Minister announced that this will be made possible by increasing the number of staff at diplomatic missions in St. Petersburg and Kaliningrad, and by opening a new consulate in the Kaliningrad Region, in the town of Sovietsk. Documents concerning this have already been sent to the Russian Foreign Ministry.
The Prime Minister regards attempts by some Russian Duma deputies to change Lithuania's position with threats of reviewing and annulling the Border Treaty as bound to fail. 'Boris Yeltsin and I signed this treaty in 1997 in full accordance with international law, which no-one is permitted to break,' he said. 'Of course, we have democracy, and there are people in both Russia and Lithuania who express their personal opinions on building foreign relations, but I think that our countries are intent on having friendly relations and that we have many common interests, including in matters concerning the Kaliningrad Region. We would like to cooperate with Russia in this region in developing energy resources, resolving economic problems and expanding cultural ties'.