Russia and the EU should draw up a joint business plan for the development of the Kaliningrad Regions, according to Mette Nielsen, the head of the Danish Foreign Ministry's Department for Russia and the CIS. Nielsen was speaking at the international conference 'Europe and Russia: Borders That Unite.'
Nielsen said that the rapid development of Poland and Lithuania with EU assistance could lead to Russia's Baltic enclave significantly falling behind its neighbours. This would be undesirable both for Russia and Europe, so it is essential to draw up a joint long-term development strategy for the region which will help to attract investment to the region and help its economy to develop. What is more, Russia, particularly the Kaliningrad Region, should make use of all the positive opportunities that EU expansion provides. Nielsen suggests that one such positive effect will be the move by Kaliningrad's neighbours to lower EU import tariffs, which will open the European market to Russian goods.
According to Nielsen, EU borders and Schengen rules are not an obstacle to legal business or inter-regional and cross-border cooperation in the Baltic region in any sphere of business. They are only a barrier to illegal migration and organised crime, which Europe has to battle against together. In this regard it is necessary to develop closer collaboration between different countries' law-enforcement agencies and sign readmission treaties between them.
The two-day conference was organised by Kaliningrad State University, the Baltic Inter-regional Institute of Social Sciences, the International Institute for Strategic Studies (London), and the Carnegie Foundation's Moscow centre. An analytical report will be prepared on the basis of the conference proceedings and presented to the Russian government and the EU.