PM Mikhail Kasyanov: Negotiations Progressing with European Commission over Kaliningrad Problem

Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov, who has arrived in Kaliningrad on a two-day visit, said that negotiations with the European Commission over the Kaliningrad problem are going more smoothly than before.

'Over the last two months we have witnessed some progress in these negotiations,' said Kasyanov. 'Our opinions are being heard, which is very important. I am sure that a solution will soon be found that is mutually acceptable to both the EU and Russia. We are expecting a decision to be made in the very near future, before the Russia - EU summit on November 11 in Copenhagen. This may only be a temporary solution although it could be a final solution.

The Russian prime minister said that the aim of this visit to Kaliningrad, the second this year, was to observe and supervise plans for the social development of the Kaliningrad region. In his opinion there has been progress in most areas 'although there have been backlogs in the payment of salaries, the reasons for which will be analysed during the visit and dealt with.' Kasyanov said that in the future he and other ministers intend to visit Kaliningrad every six months in order to take the necessary decisions. 'I am sure that we will realise our plans and perhaps we will even do something extra,' added the prime minister.

He said that the region has made progress over the last year but not in every area. Industry has grown by 14% over the last nine months compared to the 4% average in Russia, construction has increased by 25%, the transportation of goods has increased. Agriculture, however, has failed to develop and the prime minister said that he is concerned about the slow increase in the incomes of the Kaliningrad population, which is twice as slow as in the rest of Russia. Kasyanov said that all of these issues would be discussed during his visit.

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