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27 October 1998
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European Union Pledged Political And Economic Assistance To Ukraine

The European Union published a statement on October 15, a day before the second Ukrainian-European Union summit, stating its intention to continue providing political and financial support to Ukraine.

The statement said that the President of the European Union Jacques Santer, the European Union's Foreign Policy Commissioner Hans van der Broek, and the chancellor of Austria Viktor Klima would meet on October 16 with Ukrainian President Kuchma. During the meeting, the first since the Ukrainian-European Union Agreement on Partnership and Cooperation came into force, the European Union would reiterate its political support for Ukraine's independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity, and its bid for integration into the world economy.

Speaking in Brussels on the eve of the Ukrainian-European Union summit, Mr. Santer stressed the European Union's intention to assist Ukraine in integrating into the international economic system as well as in joining the World Trade Organization. Mr. Santer also said that the European Union would provide Ukraine with additional ECU 100 million to assist in closing the Chornobyl nuclear power plant down.

President Kuchma Attended Ukrainian-Austrian Summit In Vienna

The second Ukrainian-European Union summit opened in Vienna, Austria, on October 16, and it was attended by the President of Ukraine Mr. Leonid Kuchma, who was making an official visit to Austria.

During a meeting with the chairman of the National Council of Austria, Heinz Fischer, the Ukrainian leader said that Ukraine had no illusions about the length of its integration into European structures, particularly the European Union.

"We will not hurry the process but will move gradually," Mr. Kuchma said.

According to him, the second Ukrainian-European Union summit was one of the many steps in this direction.

Among the major issuae discussed at the summit were the current situations in Ukraine and the European Union, Ukraine's relations with its neighbors, and the issue of building a new and effective security architecture for Europe. The two sides considered an economic block of problems, as well. In particular, they discussed the implementation of the Ukrainian-European Union Agreement on Partnership and Cooperation, which came into force on March 1, 1998, ways of improving trade between Ukraine and European Union members, creation of free trade zones, Ukraine's bid for membership of the World Trade Organization, ways of encouraging investment, and provision of additional technical and financial assistance to Ukraine, etc.

In June this year, during the meeting of the Council for Cooperation between Ukraine and the European Union in Luxembourg Ukraine officially stated its intention to become an associate member of the European Union. On June 11, Ukraine's President Kuchma approved the Strategy for Ukraine's Integration into the European Union. These issues were also discussed at the current Ukrainian-European Union summit.

The European Union remains Ukraine's second largest trading partner, but Ukraine still has a trade deficit with the European Union and the range of traded goods is still limited. The European Union is also a Ukraine's largest donor - as of 1997 it had provided Ukraine with approximately ECU 4 billion in financial assistance. The European Union decided in Vienna on October 15 to grant Ukraine 51 million ECU, the first tranche of a loan of about 150 million ECU intended to uphold Ukraine's balance of payments.

President Kuchma On The Outcome Of The Summit

Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, Austrian Federal Chancellor Viktor Klima and European Commission Chairperson Jacques Santere held a joint press conference in Vienna to assess the outcome of the Second EU-Ukraine Summit.

Speaking at the press conference, President Kuchma admitted that the current situation in Ukraine makes it too premature to raise the issue of Ukraine's accession to the EU. Although this goal is a long way off, Ukraine would like to get a political message from the EU that it wants to see this nation among the EU members.

President Leonid Kuchma called the support, expressed by the EU members with regard to the course of Ukraine on integration with the European Union, as the most fundamental result of the summit.

At the same time, the President of Ukraine complained that many problems that Ukraine had been raising before the EU for some time remained neglected. As an example he mentioned that Ukraine had not yet been allowed to participate in the meetings of the European Conference of EU member-nations and candidates designed to address issues relating to the EU's enlargement.

President Kuchma And Austria's Foreign Minister Schuessel Discussed European Stability

During his official visit to Austria, President Leonid Kuchma met with the Vice Chancellor and Foreign Minister of Austria Wolfgang Schuessel to discuss the security issues in Europe.

The meeting took place upon Mr. Schuessel's return from Paris, France, where he attended a meeting of the Contact Group on the situation in Kosovo. According to Ukraine's Foreign Minister Borys Tarasyuk, Mr. Schuessel informed the Ukrainian leader about the outcome of the Contact Group's meeting saying that there was optimism that the crisis would be resolved peacefully. Mr. Tarasyuk further disclosed that President Kuchma and Vice Chancellor Schuessel also considered the proposed OSCE civilian verifying mission to Kosovo.

The two leaders discussed Ukrainian-Austrian bilateral cooperation and Ukraine's relations with the European Union following its expansion. Further commenting on the meeting between President Kuchma and Vice Chancellor Schuessel, Mr. Tarasyuk noted Austria's willingness to go a little further than other European Union countries in supporting Ukraine's bid for integration into the union. He, however, added that European Union decisions are adopted on the basis of consensus among member states.

Foreign Minister Tarasyuk Stated Ukraine's Intention To Contribute To Achievement Of OSCE's Goals

Foreign Minister Borys Tarasyuk in his address to the members of the OSCE's Permanent Council on October 16 said that Ukraine would contribute to the OSCE's goals by participating in international efforts to establish peace and stability in the conflict zones and by strengthening democratic institutions in Ukraine.

Mr. Tarasyuk reiterated Ukraine's position on the current situation in Kosovo, which was expressed in the statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine on October 15.

Mr. Tarasyuk reminded the OSCE Permanent Council of the Ukraine's decision to nominate Hennadiy Udovenko, Ukraine's former foreign minister and former president of the United Nations General Assembly, to head the OSCE observer mission in Kosovo.

Mr. Tarasyuk later told journalists that Ukraine’s experience in peacekeeping operations and OSCE missions justify its offer to lead such a mission. He highly rated Mr. Udovenko's chances to be appointed to lead the mission. He also disclosed to journalists that in his address to the OSCE Permanent Council he mentioned the issue of preparing an OSCE charter on European security and Ukraine's proposals on the draft.

Austria Welcomed European Union's Decision To Grant Loan To Ukraine

A decision was made in Vienna on October 15 to grant Ukraine 51 million ECU, the first tranche of a European Union loan, to uphold Ukraine's balance of payments.

This issue was discussed during a meeting between Ukraine's President Leonid Kuchma and Austria's Finance Minister Fritz Edlinger. The decision to grant the loan, the third European Union loan to Ukraine was initially made in October 1996 but its practical implementation was postponed. Mr. Edlinger, who is the President of the Austrian-Ukrainian Society, said that Austrian leadership welcomed the decision to grant the loan.

President Kuchma and Mr. Edlinger also discussed Ukraine's proposals as to the changes that should be made to the European Union's TACIS program with a view to restructure the European Union's technical assistance to Ukraine.

According to Mr. Kuchma's press secretary Oleksandr Maydannyk, the financial crises in Russia and Ukraine were also among the subjects of the discussion.

Ukraine Has Everything Necessary For Membership In The European Union, Says Deputy Foreign Minister Buteyko

Ukraine has all it takes to become an associate member of the European Union, First Deputy Foreign Minister Anton Buteyko told a news briefing on October 20.

According to Mr. Buteyko, an analysis of Ukraine's macroeconomic indicators shows that they are significantly better than those of many of the countries seeking membership in the European Union and countries that have received positive responses to their bids for associate membership of the organization.

While other countries were offered agreements on associate membership of the European Union, Ukraine and Russia were offered only agreements on partnership and cooperation, Mr. Buteyko told journalists. According to him, this was a political decision "and we consider it erroneous." Unfortunately, not all members of the European Union are prepared to support Ukraine and grant it membership of the organization, he added.

Mr. Buteyko said membership in the European Union is an alternative to a return to the past, adding that such a move would provide Ukrainians with a higher standard of living and an incentive for the development of Ukraine.



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