Human ties on outer EU Eastern border and Russian exclave of Kaliningrad

Human ties on outer EU Eastern border and Russian exclave of Kaliningrad

Organisation: Palangos Tiltas (Lithuania)

Publication Date: 03/27/2016



Newspaper Palangos Tiltas covers three coastal municipalities which are in immediate proximity, or borders the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad,sandwiched between two EU member states, Lithuania and Poland. Because of the proximity, the Lithuanian coastal municipalities of Neringa, Klaipeda and Palanga share with Kaliningrad region not only the Baltic Sea and the marine and land cargo routes, but also myriads of stories of human interaction. They encompass business ties, family links, cultural collaboration as well as many other daily encounters among people living on both sides of the EU-Russia border. Despite the political differences, the life on the external EU Eastern border was bustling until recently with many Kaliningradians coming to the Lithuanian municipalities for shopping, sight-seeing or leisure. The three municipalities have also successfully cherished cultural ties with the Russian territory. For example, the resort of Palanga, where the newspaper I edit is based, has signed a partnership agreement with Svetlogorsk, a town in the Kaliningrad region. The partnership was marked with exchange of pupils, artists and ordinary citizens. But with the standoff between Russia and West, the human ties as the entire collaboration have been severed or deteriorated significantly, although the regions were benefiting from the collaboration economically and culturally. In Palanga municipality, for example, the number of visitors from Kaliningrad has dropped around 40 percent over the last two years, which has had a tangible ill-effect on Palanga businesses. Because of the enhanced security and hassle on the border, many Lithuanians, who would frequently visit their relatives and friends in Kaliningrad, were forced to therefore abandon the trips. The ties that Palanga had with Svetlogorsk have faded to the disappointment of many people on both sides of the border. The project that newspaper Palangos Tiltas wants to pursue aims to build human bridges between Kaliningrad and Lithuania's coastal municipalities. It would be done through a series of stories (interviews, etc) about people living in Kaliningrad, their expectations and the impact that the standoff has had on their lives. In partnership with media of Svetlogorsk, our newspaper would hold a media event in Palanga to which representatives of Svetlogorsk would be invited. To engage more people in the project and ensure its success, social media and resources of Palanga municipality will be employed. Part of the work is expected to be done on voluntary basis with the help of young volunteers in Palanga. The costs of the project are assessed at 23 450 euro. It includes transportation, accommodation, advertising, editorial and journalistic work, translation, design and publishing. Multiple stories from Kaliningrad would be published once a month and would take up approximately 40,000-50,000 characters in the publication. Newspaper plans to start the project in the autumn.
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