Moscow dictates to Vilnius over Kaliningrad and Latvia

  • 2001-04-12
  • BNS
VILNIUS - As Lithuania integrates into Europe's economic and security structures, Russia has presented to Vilnius requirements about transit and visa policy in the Kaliningrad region, mentioning Latvia too in some of these requirements.

Latvian diplomats say the talks on conditions for Latvia's European Union membership are conducted with Brussels and therefore they are not set to discuss the proposals of other countries.

BNS reported from Vilnius that Moscow has called for unimpeded transit through Lithuania and Latvia between Russia and the Kaliningrad region and unprecedented visa regulations for its citizens.

In reply to the abundant proposals by the EU and Lithuania regarding the future of Kaliningrad, Russia handed Brussels and Vilnius a set of documents outlining steps it believes necessary to protect the enclave against isolation after neighboring Lithuania joins the EU.

Russia has proposed dozens of measures relating to transport and transit, visa policy, energy, fisheries and other areas.

Furthermore, Russia has called for the possibility to transport cargo by road transport and trains via Lithuania, Latvia and Poland without checking in at the borders. It also requested an air corridor with an opportunity to land at Lithuanian airports in emergency situations.

Moscow also wants a visa-free regime for people traveling from Russia to the Kaliningrad region by fixed train or bus routes, and called for a special permit system for travel by car.

According to the documents, permanent residents of the Russian region should be granted yearly Schengen visas for trips to Lithuania, Poland and Latvia.

Russia has proposed that all deals concluded between companies in Kaliningrad with those in the EU and candidate countries should be valid for a set number of years, even if they run counter to the laws of the 15-member organization.

Lithuanian Foreign Minister Antanas Valionis confirmed he received the set of requirements from his Russian counterpart, Igor Ivanov, in March, but refused to comment on the proposals.

Latvia's state secretary Maris Riekstins confirmed that Latvia has not received any documents from Russia. But Foreign Ministry officials believe Latvia's accession conditions are an issue for talks between Latvia and Brussels and are not to be discussed with third parties.

"If they are interested in how we see the enlargement process we don't mind outlining it, but speaking trilaterally about Latvia's EU membership this is not the right format," said Riekstins.