The Mission Of Kaliningrad Is In European Presence Of Russia

By Konstantin Ameliushkin

Lithuania should be a priority within interrelations of the Parliament and the Administration of Kaliningrad region, as considers the Head of Foundation “Regional Policy” Solomon Ginzburg. He thinks that the Administration of Kaliningrad region pays little attention to Lithuania, meanwhile at unofficial level “RUR and LTL” vote for cooperation.

- Which place take Lithuania in agenda of the regional Duma of Kaliningrad region and how wide is the presence of Lithuania in informational field of Kaliningrad region?
- To my view, Lithuania presents insufficiently. I think that Lithuania should be a priority within interrelations of our Parliament and Government. I don’t think that expensive presentations of Kaliningrad region abroad, especially now, in terms of crisis, can lead to useful effect. For example, the presentation of Kaliningrad region in Lisbon.

I criticize severely the idea of 50 km, because we can’t tear a part from the context of our relations, whereas not all Kaliningrad citizens will have travel privilege to the EU-states. And these 50 km will only promote corruption, discredit of European development vector. And this is a reason to discuss this problem.

- Visa regime is one of the main problems plaguing the relations of the region with Lithuania…
- We had a very long conversation with Lithuanian Foreign Minister Vygaudas Usackas. He is not just a wise person, he is positive towards Russia, Kaliningrad and he has initiatives, that our Government should have supported, because V.Usackas uses the authority of European Commission, knows many European personalities, he is a good acquaintance of Carl Bildt Foreign Minister of Sweden which currently chairs the EU.

That is why to my view, the government of Kaliningrad region pays little attention to Lithuanian direction.

I understand the situation when our authorities, Lithuanian Parliament delegates, the delegates from regional Duma gather together to brainstorm on the subject of how possible and efficient is the signing of Russia-Lithuania agreement that would ease visa regime for Kaliningrad citizens.

There are ”For” and “Against”. I see more people for it and I don’t think it will contradict Shengen agreements. We spoke a lot with the European Commission Gunnar Vigand. In general he agrees with it, but there is no lobbying mechanism.

Except for that, I think that our Lithuanian friends support this idea, that Kaliningrad should only ask. Having discussed this with colleagues from Poland and Lithuania, we could set an issue of visa-free entrance of the EU citizens on the territory of Kaliningrad region. This is asymmetric decision, but it would incite European bureaucracy to make step forward to Kaliningrad people.

- How do You view the role of Kaliningrad region in Baltic region?
- The misison of Kaliningrad is in European presence of Russia. This is the channel which has lately intensified greatly. In terms of crisis two vectors of the development of Russia will face each other – Asian and European. The first one is connected with Vladimir Putin and his people, and orientation on authoritarian regimes. There is still a strong liberal potential in Dmitry Medvedev. That is why I think that the collision of the two clans is inevitable. If Medvedev seriously wants to modernize Russia, then Kaliningrad will play a special part. It should become an individual national project of Russia.

- And the place for potential location of “Iskanders”...
- And even not only a place of location of state residence in the village “Pionerskij”. Despite the crisis we should return the idea of “pilotness” for the region. It’s easier to deal with the crisis together. We kill two birds with one stone. On the one hand we establish condition for Russia and Baltic states to come out of the crisis, via cooperation. On the other hand we accomplish the mission related to European future of Russia.

- It’s hard to call relations between Russia and Lithuania worm or to boast of the absence of difficulties in relations. It probably affects the relation of the region with Lithuania?
- Unfortunately, Kaliningrad region is a hostage of the change of political seasons within the relations of the Russian Federation and Lithuania. As well as in Poland. For good reasons it is very bad for the people of Kaliningrad, Poland and Lithuania. Thanks God, that despite such things as recent “milk war”, which is a fake to satisfy political ambitions from the both sides, public opinion, which our foundation “Regional strategy” studies actively, doesn’t get worse towards Lithuanian people.

Joint business, processes related to the establishment of civil society remove the cancer tumor of mutual rejection. And there is already another level of relations. Unofficial level. There is another level of relations when RUR and LTL vote for cooperation..

- What is the public opinion on Baltic NPP construction? Is there a dialogue between people and authorities on this subject? Mass media report that they don’t permit independent experts, reporters to visit the hearing on NPP. Only specially selected people attend these hearings…
- The idea of Baltic NPP construction is positive, but the accomplishment of the idea is awful. I asked these questions to the representatives of “Rosatom” during their visit. But there has been no answer yet.

Why there is still no resolution of the Government and the Decree of the President on Baltic NPP construction? Why there has been no referendum as the case is in security, global project, that covers peoples life for the next several dozens of years?

Ideologists and adepts of the NPP construction, who suggest that the construction should be intensified, say that we will sell energy abroad. What is the legal basis for that? As far as I know, specialists inform that Russia has agreements on energy selling. That is why before selling we should learn on which legal ground our mission will be built. I’m not dwelling on disadvantages that you pointed.

Until now we haven’t seen a separate fund for Baltic NPP construction in the program of nuclear energy of Russia up to 2030.

- Your words suggest that the talks over NPP construction is a kind of declarative way of communication of Russia with the EU and West in general …
- I can’t deny this. There is a rush over NPP construction. But it should be organized and  legally based, covering standards of international law.

- Omitting visa issue and political aspect of relations between Russia and Lithuania, what also can be called an obstacle for normal dialogue?
- I would like to specify the positive role of General Consulate of Lithuania in Kaliningrad. We are simply lucky for general consuls. And it’s a big plus that a famous politician Vaclav Stankevic took this position.

Political relations and visa regime cover 90% of all obstacles. Among the remaining 10% I would point the lack of information. I think that Lithuanian Government and the Administration of Kaliningrad region should found a permanent panel discussion for Lithuanian and Kaliningrad businessmen. It would be a kind of an information bureau for exchange of project, economic information and analysis.

To fill the sphere of political cooperation, simultaneously within the territory of Kaliningrad I would establish a committee on Parliamentary cooperation. Kaliningrad is the best place to discuss the issues of cooperation and relations between Russia and the EU? It could also include our Lithuania-Kaliningrad forum of delegates, and the representatives of the European Parliament and the representatives of the Federation Council Committee on international affairs headed by Mihail Margelov, who is interested in the accomplishment of European future of Russia.

The accomplishment of these project would let to prolong another very important for Kaliningrad project – the area to establish civil society.

- If you are talking about the process of establishment, then you state that there is no civil society?
- It can only exist here in coma. Such a stage for the round table of public forces, non-political, non-commercial organizations would finish the aforementioned triad: economy, policy and civil society.

Unfortunately Kaliningrad region is still a Russian shopwindow. And generally they will judge by Kaliningrad on the level of democratic processes in the country. And here, we’ve got big problems.
PS: During further 2-3 years Russia will be able to refuse of the services of Baltic ports for transshipment. Vice Prime Minister Sergey Ivanov stated that during a working visit to Kaliningrad region.

"This will be possible after commissioning of all capacities of the new port in Ust-Lug, including capacities on cars transshipment ", – said Ivanov. Also according to his view Russia will be able to take a part of transit.

At the same time he added that Russian ports in Baltic in a long-term prospect will be the gates of Russia within international trade. He reminded that a few years ago 90% of all Russian import and export went through Baltic ports. "Realizing this, we began developing in North-West special ports as Vysotsk and Primorsk, and multifunctional as Ust-Luga and Kaliningrad. Thus, only during 2008 Russia reduced the volume of transshipment through foreign ports for 20% ", – noted Ivanov.

As for the development of a port in Saint-Petersburg, Ivanov, specified that together with the development of the port Ust-Lug the port of saint-Petersburg will be loaded with container shipment and cars. Vice Prime Minister thinks that it will let to unload the car-way Moscow-Helsinki, and to improve the ecologic situation in Saint-Petersburg. For this reason, it is planned to transfer the receipt of cargos, including oil and coal in ports of Petersburg and Ust-Lug.

Translated by EuroDialogue XXI from DELFI.lt