|Oksana Maitakova. The Lithuanian MFA: ”We are issuing already multiple Schengen visas in Kaliningrad without invitations”|
2010 11 06
By the end of October the Consulate-General of Lithuania in the Kaliningrad region invited journalists from Kaliningrad to Vilnius for a meeting with their Lithuanian colleagues and for giving questions to Audronis Azubalis, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Lithuania. The key issue for the representatives of the Kaliningrad media was the visa issue, namely, whether Lithuania is ready for issuing multiple Schengen visas without invitations to the inhabitants of the region.
The issue was raised not by accident – firstly, similar practice is applied in the Leningrad region for many years: local people are issued annual Finnish Schengen visas just on the basis of residence registration in the region. Secondly, the EU Ambassador to Russia Fernando Valenzuela, while visiting in Kaliningrad last week, stated that similar practice does not contradict the Schengen legislation, and that it is an individual matter of the Consulate-General of any state to decide whether to issue similar visas to the inhabitants of the neighbouring region, or not.
In the Kaliningrad region respective preferences so far were accessible only to certain categories of residents covered by the Agreement of 2007 between the RF and the EU (officials, official delegations, journalists, relatives, etc.). The remaining mere mortals had to be happy with single entry visas, filling in each time a pile of documents and paying 35 euros of consular fees.
“We are issuing already multiple entry visas without invitations”, - stunned the representatives of the Kaliningrad media the Lithuanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Audronis Azubalis. “36% of the total number of visas issued by the Consulate-General of Lithuania in Kaliningrad from January to August, were just such!”
It should be noted that currently the Lithuanian Consulate-General issues single entry visas without invitations to the residents of the Kaliningrad region, however, requests for the justification of financial maintenance. Usually the Consulate accepts the bank statement confirming that the resident of the region is in the possession of EUR 40 per each day of the travel. Subsequently, for getting a 5 day visa a resident of the region shall have no less that EUR 200 on the bank account (may be the equivalent in roubles). However, the bank statement is required only while submitting documents to the Consulate. As it was revealed in practice, keeping the above amount in the bank account afterwards is not actually obligatory.
Material has been prepared by the Centre of Geopolitical Studies with reference to the article from «Комсомольская правда» of 01 11 2010