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Russian, EU legislators hope for easing of Poland-Kaliningrad visa regimen

September 20, 2011, 19:00 UTC+3

Russian and EU legislators hope that negotiations on easing the visa regimen between the Kaliningrad Region of Russia and the bordering regions of Poland will be completed...

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WARSAW, September 20 (Itar-Tass) —— Russian and EU legislators hope that negotiations on easing the visa regimen between the Kaliningrad Region of Russia and the bordering regions of Poland will be completed successfully in the near future, as follows from what was said at a meeting of the EU-Russia Committee on Parliamentary Cooperation on Tuesday.

"We endorsed the idea the whole territory of the Kalningrad Region should be subject to the operation of CBC standards. So far, only in relation to Poland. We have not mentioned Lithuania," said a co-chair of the committee from Russia, deputy chief of the State Duma committee on foreign affairs, Andrei Klimov.

"According to the information we have at our disposal, it is clear that at the next meeting of the EU Council for Justice and Home Affairs EU one may hope to see the approval of the European Commission’s proposal for amending Regulation 19/31 of 2006, which will give the green light to Russian-Polish negotiations. We seriously expect this. Of course, such things should be based on the consent of the 27 EU member-states, but we hope that no one will object," Russia's permanent representative at the EU Vladimir Chizhov told Itar-Tass in an interview.

"I am not saying that this agreement will become a reality before the end of the year," he said. "In Poland, October 9 will see parliamentary elections and a new government will be formed," Chizhov recalled. "If that future government retains the same enthusiasm as the previous one, we hope that the negotiations will not last long," Chizhov said.

He believes the problem lies in the fact that for some countries it is important to be sure the introduction of this regimen should not create a precedent, as many EU countries have external borders.

In the context of negotiations on the complete abolition of visas between the EU and Russia, Chizhov said that "the dialogue continues."

"Kaliningrad is a pilot project. But very crucial for this region, as well as for the residents of other regions of the country, is a visa abolition agreement between the EU and Russia," he explained. "With the UK we shall have to negotiate separately, and I'm afraid that it will not be easy.”

The European participants in the meeting, in turn, have an understanding of the complexity of Kaliningrad’s exclave status. "We want to maintain the stable development of Kaliningrad as part of Russia, the Baltic region, as well as the free exchange of goods, services between that region and the EU," European Parliament spokesperson said, adding that several programs were being implemented for these purposes.

The European Commission's proposal for amending Regulation 19/31 of 2006 regards the expansion of the zone of small border traffic to the entire territory of the Kaliningrad Region and an equivalent area of ··Poland and Lithuania, which will not be limited by the European standard of 30 kilometers from the border. If the amendments are adopted, Poland and Russia will start bilateral talks on the agreement that may grant the right to Kaliningraders and Polish citizens to make visa-free trips on the presentation of a special permit. Lithuania has not yet shown interest in this initiative.

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