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Kwasniewski against Kaliningrad visa-free corridor

Polish President Alexander Kwasniewski arrived in Moscow on 6 June to meet with Russian President Putin, ITAR-TASS reported on 6 June. Flying from Seoul, South Korea, Kwasniewski stopped over in Novosibirsk, where he met with presidential envoy to the Siberian Federal District Leonid Drachevskii. In Novosibirsk, Kwasniewski expressed his opposition to Russian appeals for a visa-free corridor for Russia's Kaliningrad Oblast after Poland and Lithuania join the European Union in the next few years as expected. At the same time, he said he favors a liberal visa regime for Russians in the exclave. "We would like to do everything we can to strengthen contacts between neighboring countries, which means giving long-term multiple-entry, cheap, and maybe even free visas to students and young people," he said.

...as Russia stands firm

Moscow does not intend to back down in its dispute with the European Union over the Kaliningrad exclave, ITAR-TASS reported on 5 June. Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Razov said, "Moscow's position is that it is necessary to preserve unhindered the movement of people between Kaliningrad Oblast and the rest of Russia." Razov rejected EU proposals to issue simplified Schengen visas to Kaliningrad residents, noting that only 230,000 of the region's 1 million inhabitants have foreign-travel passports and that EU statistics show that 3-5 percent of visa applicants are rejected. Razov said Russia cannot permit a situation in which the right of Russian citizens to travel between areas of Russia would depend on "the good or bad will of an EU bureaucrat."

(RFE/RL 06.vi.02)

 
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