Belarus ready to discuss with RF settlement of transport conflict

MINSK, February 8 (Itar-Tass) -- Belarus is ready to discuss with Russia ways of settling the transport conflict over Kaliningrad transit, a spokesman for the Belarussian Foreign Ministry said on Thursday.

Belarussian and Russian "specialists and experts should come to terms," Andrei Popov said. In his view, "There are all legal and organizational prerequisites and conditions" for the problem settlement.

"It is sufficient to recall the agreement on the principles of cooperation and conditions of relations in transport that was signed back in 1992," Popov told Itar-Tass.

"There is also a corresponding organizational intergovernmental mechanism that is the coordination committee for the formation and ensuring the operation of a unified transport system of the Belarus-Russia Union State," he pointed out.

These organizational instruments are quite sufficient. The prime ministers of the countries confirmed it "under the agreement on lifting problematic issues in mutual trade, which was signed in Moscow in January," the spokesman remarked.

"Thus, the choice is obvious: it is necessary to come to terms and lift all mutual concerns. There is no choice, as millions of tonnes of cargoes are shipped via Belarus from Russia and backward every year," Popov indicated.

Since January 8 Belarus tightened customs control over Kaliningrad transit. Incidentally, long traffic jams emerged on the Belarussian-Lithuanian border. Russian freight carriers also sustain additional expenses for the obligatory convoying of vehicles via Belarus.

In reply to Belarussian steps the Russian Transport Ministry said on February 7 it "does not believe it possible to consider the issuing of Russian permits to the Belarussian side for transit freight shipments in and from third countries."