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Russia vows not to urbanise Curonian Spit National Park in Kaliningrad Region

2008-09-22

Russia plans no construction works on the Curonian Spit territory in Kaliningrad Region and, similarly to Lithuania, is interested in the Curonian Spit remaining on the list of the UNESCO protected territories.  Such position of the Russian Ministry of Natural Resources and Ecology was declared during a joint Lithuanian-Russian cooperation commission meeting, organized in Moscow at the end of last week.

Curonian Spit territory development plans were included in the meeting agenda on the initiative of the Lithuanian delegation of this comission, led by Mr Aleksandras Spruogis, Secretary of the Ministry of Environment.  “We received contradictory information on our neighbour’s plans to urbanize their part of the Curonian Spit territory, therefore, we asked the Russian delegation, led by Mr Stanislav Ananjev, Viceminister of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Ecology of the Russian Federation, to addres this issue”, said Mr Spruogis.

According to Russian representatives, the Russian territory of the Curonian Spit forms part of the exclusive tourism and recreation economic zone of Zelenogradsk District, Kaliningrad Region.  This zone was formed by a Russian government decree in February, 2007.  A tender procedure to prepare a planning concept has already been started.  Nevertheless, any economic activity will have to be carried out according to the already established environmental requirements, the Russian delegation stated .  The joint commission noted that parties should inform each other in a timely manner on any economic activity in this territory.

In response to the Lithuanian delegation’s question regarding the possibility to reduce Nemunas River contamination by the Neman and Sovietsk cities of Kaliningrad Region, which are major pollutants of the river, the Russian delegation indicated the following: since last June, because of a fire, production of the Neman cellulose and paper plant has decreased by 60 percent.  Consequently, environmental pollution has diminished at the same rate.  Meanwhile, the Sovietsk cellulose and paper factory is about to finish implementation of environmental protection measures on the basis of criteria set forth by the Helsinki commission, which is an international Baltic Sea protection organization.  This should allow the city to be removed from the list of Baltic Sea pollution “hot spots”.

Throughout the meeting, both delegations agreed to join forces and put their efforts to accomplish the signature of a mutual agreement between the Russian and Lithuanian governments regarding the prevention mechanisms of Baltic Sea pollution by oil and other hazardous materials, as well as liquidation of pollution effects. Other environmental issues have also been discussed.

It is already the sixth meeting of the Lithuanian-Russian Joint Commission on Environmental Issues. The Commission was established in 1999 as a result of an environmental cooperation agreement signed between the governments of the two countries.  The first commission meeting had been planned for 2000, but the actual meeting, as a result of our country’s continuous efforts, took place in Vilnius only in April 2004.  The commission met for the second time in Moscow in November 2004, and subsequent meetings were organized in one or the other capital city.  The commission has decided to hold its seventh meeting in Vilnius next May.

Public information department, tel. + 370 5 266 3660

22 Sep 2008

Minister of Environment of Lithuania Kęstutis Navickas
Minister of Environment of Lithuania Kęstutis Navickas