In the process of the EU forthcoming enlargement, Russia may face certain problems, Russian foreign minister Igor Ivanov told the 12th session of the Council of Baltic Sea States.
"Moreover, we have already been confronted with them, bearing in mind the problems of Kaliningrad (a Russian enclave on the coast of the Baltic Sea, which will be separated from mainland Russia by the Schengen zone, after Poland and Lithuania join the EU).
The foreign minister stressed that less than twelve months were left before the EU actual enlargement. In this connection, it is necessary to settle issues that arise, he said. In the first place, it is necessary to take into account the prospect of the accession by the group of ten countries, including four members of the Council of Baltic Sea States (Poland, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia) to the Russia-EU agreement on partnership and co-operation, the Russian foreign minister said.
"I believe that the main task is to prevent the sudden rupture of traditional ties between Russia and the countries that are joining the European Union," he stressed. "If we fail to disentangle this complex knot of problems until May 1, 2004, all the parties will lose." In the minister's opinion, "the central task of co-operation in the Baltic Sea Region is the task to overcome the existing barriers and prevent the emergence of new dividing lines in the north of Europe."