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Russia: EU, Russian Officials Differ On Kaliningrad Talks

Moscow, 17 October 2002 (RFE/RL) -- Russian and European Union officials are giving differing assessments of the outcome of their latest talks on the issue of visa requirements for Kaliningrad. The Russian territory on the Baltic will be surrounded by EU states once neighboring Poland and Lithuania join the union -- most likely in 2004. Ahead of EU membership, Lithuania and Poland plan to impose visa requirements for Russian citizens, in line with the EU's general policy.

But Moscow is demanding visa-free travel to and from the territory for Russians, so that Kaliningrad does not become isolated from the rest of Russia.

Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said after the talks that the two sides' positions were drawing closer. But Danish Foreign Minister Per Stig Moeller, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency, issued a statement upon his return to Copenhagen saying the EU had already shown unprecedented flexibility. In strong language, he urged Moscow to demonstrate a greater "willingness to cooperate."