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EU - Russia Parliamentary Cooperation Commitee Meeting

Brussels, November 22-23, 2004

Speech by Laima Andrikiene, MEP (EPP-ED, Lithuania) 

Dear Colleagues from the European Parliament and the State Duma,

It is a pleasure to see our guests from Russia in the European Parliament and to have an opportunity to discuss with you some important issues and Kaliningrad as one of them. I hope we will have a constructive discussion on this issue today.

Firstly, it is important to note at the beginning of our discussion that we appreciate the efforts made by the European Union and the Russian Federation to develop a solid strategic partnership and note that following the enlargement of the European Union the responsibility for the future of Kaliningrad region rests not only with the Russian Federation, but also with the European Union.

Secondly, I would also like to underline Lithuania's interest in the social well-being of the residents of the EU neighbouring region of Kaliningrad and the economic development of the region. I hope that we all realise that the European Union can make a significant contribution to the social and economic development of the Kaliningrad region.

Thirdly, I believe that integration of the Kaliningrad region into the Baltic economic and social area can be ensured not only by the transit between the Kaliningrad region and mainland Russia, but first and foremost by the joint efforts of the European Union and the Russian Federation.

At the same time I would like to note that efforts to introduce derogations from the EU acquis with regard to the transit to and from Russia allowing creating a transit corridor run counter to the national interests of some EU member states and Lithuania in particular.

Using this PCC meeting format I would like to invite the Russian Federation to create conditions facilitating the social and economic development of the Kaliningrad region and to open up the area for regional cooperation in order to offer the Kaliningrad region prospects of future development, thus enabling its residents to take full advantage of the enlargement of the European Union and of the rapid economic growth in the neighbourhood of the Kaliningrad region.

We should understand that failure of the Kaliningrad region to adapt to the dynamic development in its proximity can, over the long term, turn the region into a source of social and political tension, while Russia's stance on the development of the Kaliningrad region, having regard only to the transit between the Kaliningrad region and mainland Russia, renders it impossible to deal effectively with the issues and economic development, environment, education and protection of cultural heritage.

I would like to use this opportunity to call on the Russian Duma and the leadership of the Russian Federation to start a dialogue on the development of a separate action plan for the economic and social development of the Kaliningrad region.

In this context I would like to support a proposal to have a Subcommittee on Regional and Cross-border Cooperation, multi-sectoral and multidisciplinary, which would cover not only all appropriate issues related to Kaliningrad transit, but also more broadly issues related to social and economic development of the Kaliningrad region.