Russia, Poland discuss enclave issue

Russia and Poland have decided to resolve the thorny issue of transit to and from the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad which will be surrounded by European Union territory after the bloc's enlargement next year.

    Kaliningrad's unique
    problem foxes Putin

    Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Polish counterpart Aleksander Kwasniewski met on Saturday to discuss the issue at Baltiisk, a port in the Kaliningrad enclave.

     

    Talking to reporters after the talks,  Kwasniewski said the two countries would work out the details of the future visa system, to facilitate easier transit for Russian citizens.

     

    Once Kaliningrad is surrounded by EU territory, it is expected to create problems of transit for Russian citizens to and from Kaliningrad, an island of Russian territory surrounded by Poland and Lithuania.

      

    Both Poland and Lithuania are due to join the EU next year and, in accordance with EU rules, will require Russian nationals travelling through their territory to carry visas.

     

    Intense wrangling

      

    The three countries have long wrangled over the issue of transit -- what types of visas Russians would have to get and how easily and quickly they could get them.

      

    Russia argues that a stringent visa regime would violate its citizens' right to free movement.  The European Union fears that lax visa rules would lead to nationals of Russia and other economically-struggling former Soviet republics to illegally enter

    the bloc.

      

    Kaliningrad was historically a German territory that was occupied by the Soviet Union after World War II.

      

    Poland was a communist client-state of the former Soviet Union from the end of World War II until the Soviet collapse in 1991.


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