Russian Foreign Minister and EU leading three to meet in Moscow

In line with the schedule of the Russia-EU political dialogue, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov will hold negotiations with the leading three of the EU on Thursday, the Russian Foreign Ministry told RIA Novosti.

Javier Solana, the Secretary General of the EU Council and High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy, Christopher Patten, the European Commissioner for External Relations, Foreign Ministers Per Stig Moller of Denmark and Yeoryios Papandreou of Greece have already arrived in Moscow to take part in the negotiations.

The Russian Foreign Ministry reported that arrangements for the Russia-EU summit due on November 11th in Copenhagen would be central to the meeting. Undoubtedly, the Kaliningrad problem will be a priority in the light of the coming enlargement of the EU. The Kaliningrad region is the Russian enclave on the Baltic Sea which will be separated by the Schengen zone from the rest of Russia after Poland and Lithuania enter the EU.

According to the Russian side, no progress has been made so far on the part of the European Union in solving the key issue of life support for the Kaliningrad region - the preservation of a visa-free transit via Lithuania by railway and motor transport.

The Russian Foreign Ministry told RIA Novosti that the EU proposed to introduce "a certain 'simplified transit document' which will actually serve as an ersatz for a visa to be issued for a limited and a very vague category of Russians who frequently travel to and from the Kaliningrad region." The EU postpones the consideration of the possibility to organise non-stop visa-free railway trips till after its enlargement.

However, Moscow is sure that such an alternative is technically possible already now. Russian President Vladimir Putin declared that so far "there have been neither legal nor actual obstacles to solving the issue that would meet the interests of both sides." According to him, visa-free travelling by transit trains does not violate the Schengen visa regime, as the passengers of such trains will not step on the Schengen zone territory. The corresponding Schengen documents envisage that unless such transit passengers get off the train, there is no violation of the Schengen agreements.

"All we need political will to solve the problem of passenger transportation, while the theory of a single European home should be put into practice," the Russian President believes.

The sides will also discuss topical international problems, including the situation around Iraq and in the Middle East, and the fight against international terrorism.

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