UPDATE ON THE MEETING OF PRIME MINISTERS OF RUSSIA AND FINLAND
Gazeta, September 30, 2002, p. 2
Prime ministers of Russia and Finland Mikhail Kasianov and Paavo Lipponen crossed the border between Finland and the Murmansk region to officially open the international border crossing point Salla. Kasianov was a bit sluggish at first, but five minutes into his speech he seemed to come to and condemned the European Union for discrimination against Kaliningrad residents.
Beginning of the protocol function did not promise any heated debates over Kaliningrad. Opening of the Salla was an ordinary event. The seventh crossing point on the Russian-Finnish border is distinguished only by being located right on the border between Russia and the European Union. It will make shorter the transportation routes for goods and commodities from Sweden, Finland, Germany, and Great Britain (mostly technological and industrial equipment and timber).
The Salla could have been opened several years ago but Russia lacked the money to build the necessary communications. TACIS Program transferred 7 million euros to Russia then, and 8 million more are promised for construction of the eighth crossing point.
Both premiers were on the border between Russia and the European Union and Lipponen ended up talking about transit of Kaliningrad residents through the Shengen Zone. The Eurocommission “put forth a pragmatic proposal and the final decision will be made on its basis,” Lipponen said, meaning the idea of special permits for Kaliningrad residents. Essentially, this is the same old visa.
The decision is to be approved by heads of European Union members. Before Kasianov’s visit, President of Finland Tarja Hallonen turned down the idea of special status for Kaliningrad which Vladimir Putin had asked for from the European Union in his special address. Lipponen merely reiterated the position of official Helsinki.
“Do not deceive yourselves,” Kasianov retorted. “The suggestion does not solve the problem. This is the same idea of multiple visas, just phrased differently. Look at it from this angle,” this is where Kasianov really got in stride, “it follows that we are supposed to introduce Kaliningrad passports of the Russian Federation.”
Asked to explain the position of Finland on the matter of Kaliningrad later that evening, Lipponen replied that “we came to a better understanding of the problem of trips from Kaliningrad.”
AMERICAN AND BRITISH OFFICIALS HAVE NOTHING TO SHOW FOR THE VISIT TO MOSCOW
Izvestia, September 30, 2002, p. 2
Baghdad’s position was explained by Vice President Taha Jasin Ramadan. The Iraqi gave a sharply worded statement, undoubtedly buoyed by the failure of Grossman’s mission. His enthusiasm is understandable because the new resolution would have raised stiff demands for Hussein to meet.
For example, the resolution would have given Baghdad a single week to “clarify” the matter of mass destruction weapons production. Within the following 23 days Iraq would have been expected to submit thorough information on its arms programs. What counts, however, is the following clause. If UN inspectors found any discrepancy between what really existed and what was officially reported by Baghdad, the UN Security Council would have been empowered to launch a military operation against Iraq without any new resolutions.
The draft new resolution does take into account the position of Moscow, Paris, and Beijing. These capitals insisted on “appearance of conditions for the inspectors” and not on a military operation. After some consultations and amendments, all of the UN Security Council may vote for the draft. That is what worries official Baghdad, which intends to send its emissaries to Moscow to persuade it not to give in in the dialogue with the United States and Great Britain.
Finding itself in the center of complicated diplomatic maneuvers of the United States on the one hand and Iraq on the other, Moscow stalls for time to “study the situation”. The situation is tricky indeed: as a defender of Iraq, Moscow may spoil its relations with the United States. With all that it implies. Washington will strike at Iraq all the same, Saddam’s regime will be toppled, and Russia’s economic interests will be disregarded.
The British “Independent” newspaper reports that the United States and some Arab states have allegedly worked out a plan of sending Hussein from Iraq to some “neutral country” like Algeria or Mauritania. This turn of events may prevent a military operation against Iraq and extricate Russia from the tight corner.
ALMOST 70,000 REFUGEES REFUSE TO RETURN TO CHECHNYA FROM INGUSHETIA
Nezavisimaya Gazeta, September 30, 2002, p. 10
Immigration Directorate of the Ingush Interior Ministry released a special statement on the position of Chechen refugees: or rather on the state of affairs with their return to Chechnya. The statement comments on attempts “on the part of certain destructive forces” to distort the situation with the refugees’ return. It also comments on attempts to drive a wedge between two sisterly nations and destabilize the situation in the region. According to the statement, the government of Ingushetia and Immigration Directorate drew up a complex plan of improvement of living conditions of the refugees. The authorities will rent living accommodation from Ingush organizations and companies.
All these activities are misunderstood and actually impaired by some international and public organizations bringing in relief aid to the refugees. Ingushetia reiterates that all refugees will return to their homes only of their own volition and pledges to do what it can to make their life in the republic easier.
Analysts say that the statement was expected. Leaders of Ingushetia and Chechnya Murat Zyazikov and Akhmad Kadyrov signed an agreement on refugees’ return on May 30, 2002. Most international humanitarian organizations working with Chechen refugees were dismayed by appearance of the document. It should be noted that most Chechen refugees who opted to return to Chechnya went back to Ingushetia almost immediately.