KALININGRAD FROM EUROPE WITH LOVE
Ask a random group of Europeans where Kaliningrad is located and you will find it hard to get a correct answer. But ask a resident of Kaliningrad what he knows about Europe and you will be quite surprised: not only can they talk about Warsaw or Berlin, but they have often spent more time there than on their home territory of Russia. Therein lies the paradox of the Kaliningrad region: it is much closer to Europe than to the Russian mainland. The region was a part of East Prussia and so belonged to Germany until it became part of the Soviet Union as a result of the Second World War. The location of the region is unique: Poland on one side, Lithuania on the other, with Sweden just across the Baltic Sea. The
The enlargement of the European Union in 2004 was a crucial event for the Baltic States – and an equally significant headache for Moscow and Brussels. For the first time, the territory of Russia was cut into two parts by an administrative unit and visas were required for Russian citizens to travel from one side to the other. After many months of negotiations between Russia and the European Commission, Kaliningraders travelling regularly to Russia can now get a “multiple entry simplified transit document” (STD) from the Lithuanian consulate. It costs 5 euros and is valid for travel on any kind of ground transport for a period of three years. I do not know whether the transit agreement has brought “stability and peace” to
Paradoxically, the most positive repercussions of EU enlargement for Kaliningrad seem to have come from Moscow rather than Brussels or Warsaw. > distance from Kaliningrad to the Polish border is a mere 35 km, and only 70 km to the closest Lithuanian town. However, Russia is a long way. This enclave in the Baltic is literally cut off from its parent. To reach their “motherland”, Kaliningraders need to cross the territories of at least two independent states (Lithuania and Latvia or Lithuania and Belarus) and cover around 600-700 km.
Sergey’s research work on Kaliningrad is available on his website:
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Europe, but it certainly has not made Kaliningraders very happy. They do not see why they should suddenly need to queue in consulates and pay for visas. Has the enlargement of the EU brought positive changes for Kaliningrad to outweigh the costs? Well, perhaps the most immediate advantage was the accession of its two neighbours (Poland and
Lithuania) to the “Agreement on Partnership and Cooperation” between the Russian Federation and the EU. This gives Kaliningrad a privileged position in trade relations between Russia and the enlarged EU. Paradoxically, the most positive repercussions of EU enlargement for Kaliningrad seem to have come from Moscow rather than Brussels or Warsaw. For the first time since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Kaliningrad started to receive special attention from the Russian federal government. Moscow decided to develop the economic potential of the region, which suddenly rose to the top of the strategic agenda as a Russian enclave in the EU. While maintaining the region’s status as a
© François Tacoen
> Sergey Naumkin Lawyer Kaliningrad/Manchester Russian
Fifty years ago, six European countries created a zone of cooperation that cut across the territorial divisions of the past. Since then, bri...