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15 December 1998
For immediate release
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President Kuchma’s Visit To Belarus
Ukraine's President Leonid Kuchma departed for Belarus on December 11 to begin a working visit. The aim of the visit was to strengthen economic ties between Ukraine and Belarus and simplifying contacts between Ukrainian and Belarussian business people. According to officials of the Ukrainian Presidential Administration, Mr. Kuchma has expressed concern over the 165 fall in the turnover of trade between the two countries. Mr. Kuchma and his Belarussian counterpart Oleksandr Lukashenko were to sign an agreement on long-term economic cooperation between Ukraine and Belarus, and to discuss the Belarussian parliament's delay in ratifying the agreement on delimitation of the Ukrainian-Russian border. On the eve of his departure, Mr. Kuchma said that he intended to continue opposing political isolation of Belarus.
Presidents Of Ukraine And Belarus Sign Long-Term Economic Cooperation Program In Minsk
On December 11, Presidents Kuchma of Ukraine and Lukashenko of Belarus signed a long-term economic cooperation program there to cover the period of 1999-2008. The program is aimed at boosting trade between the two Slavic nations through eliminating any remaining barriers. Speaking at a follow-up press conference in Minsk, Messrs. Kuchma and Lukashenko noted that Ukraine positively responded to the Belarussian party's proposal that Ukrainian commodities which Belarus regards as critical imports, such as sugar, vegetable oil, hard wheat and ferrous metals, be shipped there directly under the two governments' joint control and without any go-betweens.
Ukrainian-Belarussian Summit In Minsk Dominated By Economic Issues
The only problem which remains unresolved yet in Ukrainian-Belarussian relations, is the one of debts, the Ukrainian and Belarussian Heads of State noted during their meeting in Minsk on December 11. The two presidents have agreed to hold their next summit in February to specifically address it. By February, 1999, the mixed Belarussian-Ukrainian intergovernmental commission which was instituted to this end, will have to make a convincing conclusion about Ukraine's debt to Belarus which the latter nation once appraised at 217 million dollars, but which Ukraine tends to disclaim. As a result of President Leonid Kuchma's working visit to Minsk, the parties signed a long-term economic cooperation program (1999-2008), an intergovernmental agreement on border-crossing procedures for Ukrainian and Belarussian nationals who live in adjacent trans-border provinces. The agreement provides for simplifying these and setting up additional border-crossing check-points to make the total number reach 70. Mr. Kuchma was reported to have reiterated Ukraine's firm stance against the [limit of the] state's political isolation. According to Volodymyr Ogryzko, the Presidential Administration Office's foreign political agency superintendent, during the meeting in Minsk the issue of Ukraine's likely [agreement] to the Russo-Belarussian Union was never raised.
President Kuchma To Hold Working Meeting With Turkmen Head Of State Niazov In Ashgabat On December 23-24
As the presidential press service reported on December 14, President Leonid Kuchma will hold a working meeting with his Turkmen counterpart, Saparmurat Niazov, in the Turkmen capital, Ashgabat, on December 23 and 24. An agreement to this effect was reached during President Kuchma's telephone conversation with the Turkmen Head of State.
EU To Present Its Strategy In Relations With Ukraine In June Of 1999
Germany's Ambassador to Ukraine Eberhard Heyken has said that Germany will do everything possible to bring Ukraine closer to the European Union during its presidency of the European Union, which will begin on January 1, 1999. Mr. Heyken said one of Germany's main tasks as president of the European Union would be to draft a general European Union strategy on relations with Ukraine and Russia. According to him, the decision to draft such a document was made at the European Union's last summit in Vienna, Austria. He disclosed that the general strategy will be unveiled at a meeting in Cologne in June 1999. Mr. Heyken said Germany's new government remained committed to the existing relations between Ukraine and Germany. According to him, the coalition agreement signed by Germany's current ruling parties stated satisfaction with the development of Ukrainian-German relations and also stated the coalition's intention to raise the relations to a higher level. Germany recognized Ukraine's special regional role and would assist Ukraine in implementing reforms, he said.