Presidents of Russia and Finland to discuss Kaliningrad region problem

The problem of the Kaliningrad region (the Russian enclave on the Baltic Sea), the future architecture of European security and the situation around Iraq will be central to today's negotiations between Vladimir Putin and President Tarja Halonen of Finland in St. Petersburg, the Russian presidential administration reports.

According to Kremlin officials, Putin and Halonen will discuss prospects of partnership between Russia and the European Union, firstly in ensuring life support in the Kaliningrad region after the enlargement of the EU.

The Kremlin said the coming enlargement of the EU "makes more acute the problem of life support in the Kaliningrad region as a full-fledged member of the Russian Federation." At issue is first of all the maintenance of a simplified procedure of land passenger transportation between the region and the rest of Russia and an uncomplicated regime of cargo transportation.

The Kremlin believes that "mutually acceptable solutions should be found before the Russia-EU summit in Copenhagen scheduled for November 11th." The efficiency of joint efforts could then "testify to the maturity of strategic partnership between Russia and the European Union," the Kremlin administration believes.

The Kremlin spokesmen told RIA Novosti that Moscow reckoned on "understanding and support on the part of Finland, Russia's closest neighbour among EU countries which has an old experience of the efficient operation of the joint border with Russia." On the whole, the Kremlin is satisfied with the development of Russo-Finnish relations and thinks that they "are free from unsolved political problems of a principled character." Moscow is sure that bilateral dialogue at the highest level contributes to this. The coming negotiations between heads of state will put into practice their agreement reached in May to maintain a regular exchange of opinion.

The current summit follows a working visit by Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov to Finland on September 26-28th. Back then the Russian and Finnish Prime Ministers had a detailed discussion of issues related to Russo-Finnish trade-economic cooperation.

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