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Experts comment on Lithuanian MP’s claims regarding Russia's Kaliningrad

January 30, 9:15 UTC+3 KALININGRAD

Media reports quoted a deputy of the Lithuanian Seimas as saying that Russia had lost legal rights to the Kaliningrad region

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© ITAR-TASS/Anatoly Strunin

KALININGRAD, January 30. /TASS/. Proposals by the deputy of the Lithuanian Seimas, Linas Balsys, to take the Baltic exclave region of Kaliningrad away from Russia stems from the striving to draw attention to the Lithuanian Republic, particularly on the part of the U.S. and does not have any relationship to real politics, political experts based in Kaliningrad told TASS.

Media reports quoted Balsys as saying at a conference titled ‘World in 2017: The View from Vilnius’ that Russia had lost legal rights to the Kaliningrad region after what he described as the "annexation" of Crimea and the status of the exclave, which is part of the former German province of East Prussia, needed consideration at the international level.

"Time has run out for Kaliningrad," Balsys alleged. "Kaliningrad was not given to Russia in perpetuity, either at the Potsdam Conference or at Helsinki. It was [only] said that the region would be put under Soviet administration until a final European peace agreement is signed."

"It looks like Mr. Deputy simply seeks political promotion for himself," said Dr. Yuri Zverev, and Assistant Professor at the Emmanuel Kant Baltic Federal University.

"If you take Lithuania on the whole, I don’t know to what degree he has rallied the support of other deputies, but it seems the Lithuanians want to escalate the situation around the Kaliningrad region so that U.S. President Donald Trump would find it more difficult to scale the tensions down," he said.

"It’s totally unclear what Lithuania has to do with it because East Prussia used to be part of Germany but the Germans have closed the problem for themselves," Dr. Zverev said. "Germany hasn’t been making any official claims to the Kaliningrad region since decades ago.

He made a supposition that Lithuanian politicians might be turning their eyes to the legacy of Lesser Lithuania, an ethnographic region in Prussia and, later on, in East Prussia and Germany where the Prussian Lithuanians lived, but he added that territory, too, was an integral part of German East Prussia.

Political analyst Alexander Nosovich who specializes in the studies of political relations in East Europe and social/political process in the eastern Baltic states, Ukraine and Belarus said Lithuanian politicians were regularly raising a possibility of expropriation of the Kaliningrad exclave from Russia.

On the face of it, Germany that used to have sovereignty over these territories never raised the question as a minimum since the early 1970’s when the then Federal Chancellor, Willy Brandt embarked on the Neue Ostpolitik (New Eastern Policy) course, and particularly since the Helsinki conference.

"The Germans don’t need it and Germany doesn’t take it up," Nosovich said. "Poland (which received two-thirds of the former East-Prussian territory after World War II - TASS) doesn’t take it up either and the Poles don’t put forward any proposals to expropriate the Kaliningrad region and to hand it over to anyone else."

"At any rate, no one raises the problem at a political level," he said.

Lithuania is raising it to draw the attention of the U.S. and the EU to itself, as the Americans and the Europeans are gradually forgetting about the former Soviet republic, Nosovich said dismissing Balsys’s speech at the conference as a trivial provocation.

"Statements of this kind don’t make any practical sense," he said. "More than that, they bear risks for the Lithuanian representatives themselves."

Nosovich pointed out some knotty territorial problems, which the Lithuanians might bump into if someone decided to revise the outcome of World War II, as Lithuania might lose its largest ice-free port of Klaipeda, formerly known as Memel, and generally access to the Baltic Sea.

"I think the Lithuanian politicians who’re trying to irritate Russia with the allegations that Kaliningrad should revert to German rule or be placed under an abstract EU authority realize in principle this will never happen and that’s why they don’t have anything to worry about," he said.

"If they had at least some percent of assuredness real actions might follow their ruminations and the legal and territorial subordination of Kaliningrad might really change, they would keep silent then," Nosovich said.

"If questions regarding Russia’s sovereignty over Kaliningrad sprang up in practical terms, the issue of Lithuanian sovereignty over Klaipeda would crop up automatically, too," he said.

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