HC Deb 12 May 2004 vol 421 cc345-6
8. Mr. Gordon Marsden (Blackpool, South) (Lab)

What recent discussions he has had with EU partners on programmes to support the development of civil society in Kaliningrad. [172242]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development (Mr. Gareth Thomas)

I have not been involved in any recent discussions with EU partners on programmes specifically to support the development of civil society in Kaliningrad. However, the Department is funding work on HIV prevention in Kaliningrad through our work on HIV/AIDS harm reduction in many regions across Russia. The work is being carried out by the Open Health Institute, a Russian non-governmental organisation, which is channelling funding through civil society organisations in the region.

Mr. Marsden

I thank my hon. Friend for that answer. He will be aware that the accession this month of the Baltic states to the EU throws into sharp relief the particular problematic issues with regard to Kaliningrad. I am grateful for the work that is being done, but may I urge my hon. Friend to press for a stronger profile within the EU on issues in Kaliningrad, particularly social inclusion, fighting organised crime and HIV/AIDS, bearing in mind that these are issues in which the EU now has a self-interest as well as a humanitarian interest in relation to Kaliningrad and Russia?

Mr. Thomas

I am happy to assure my hon. Friend that the EU is taking these issues extremely seriously. Some €25 million of the national programme of technical assistance to the Commonwealth of Independent States funding for Russia has been earmarked to support the economic and social development of Kaliningrad.