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26 December 1998
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President Leonid Kuchma's Official Visit To Macedonia

On December 16, 1998 President Leonid Kuchma of Ukraine arrived at the Skopje International Airport on a two-day official visit to Macedonia accompanied by his spouse, Lyudmyla Kuchma, Vice Prime Minister Valeriy Smoliy, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Dmytro Tkach, Minister for Transport Ivan Dankevych, Minister for Foreign Economic Relations and Trade Serhiy Osyka, and other high-ranking officials. Mr. Kuchma and his spouse were met at the airport by Macedonian President Kiro Gligorow and his spouse. Following the formal welcoming ceremony, Ukrainian-Macedonian negotiations got under way. Presidents of Ukraine and Macedonia signed a Friendship & Cooperation Treaty between the two nations. In addition to the major political document, a package of bipartite agreements were signed in Skopje providing for Ukrainian-Macedonian cooperation in education, certification, sports, and other fields. Following the two presidents' joint press conference, Mr. Kuchma, who arrived in Macedonia on Wednesday on an official visit, held meetings with Macedonian Parliament Speaker S. Klimowski, Prime Minister Lubomir Georgiewski, prominent figures of the Macedonian-Ukrainian Friendship Society and senior Macedonian Red Cross officers. President Kuchma's schedule for December 17 included a televised interview and a familiarization visit to the Rade Koncer factory before leaving for Kyiv.

President Kuchma Welcomes Ratification Of Russian-Ukrainian Friendship And Cooperation Agreement

Ukraine's President Leonid Kuchma, who is presently on a working visit to the Mykolaiv region, has welcomed the Russian parliament's ratification of the Ukrainian-Russian Friendship and Cooperation Agreement. Mr. Kuchma said the agreement's ratification was in the interest of the two countries and expressed the hope that Russia will soon recover from the current financial crisis.

Verkhovna Rada Speaker Welcomes Ratification Of Ukrainian-Russian Friendship And Cooperation Treaty

Ukrainian Verkhovna Rada Chairman Oleksandr Tkachenko has welcomed the Russian parliament's ratification of the Ukrainian-Russian Friendship and Cooperation agreement. Addressing journalists in Kyiv on December 25, Mr. Tkachenko described the agreement's ratification as a big step towards closer ties between the peoples of the two countries. According to him, a single Ukrainian-Russian economic zone is being created for the benefit of Ukrainians and Russians. Russian State Duma's decision to ratify the agreement was prompted by the understanding of the fact that none of the two countries can develop its economy without the other, he said. "We lived together for many years and this has to be taken into consideration," Mr. Tkachenko said. "However, nobody wants to return to the past. We are now independent nations, and each country has its own constitution."

Ukraine Hoping To Complete Delimitation Of Its Border With Russia Before Mid-1999

Ukraine hopes to complete delimitation of its border with Russia before mid-1999, Ukraine's special envoy Yuriy Kostenko told journalists on December 22. Mr.Kostenko, who leads the Ukrainian delegation to Ukrainian-Russian border delimitation talks, disclosed that 1,200 out of the 2,000 kilometers of the Ukrainian-Russian border have thus far been delimited. He added that the basic parameters of six out of nine strips of border land have been agreed upon. According to Mr. Kostenko, there are problems involving delimitation of the Ukrainian-Russian borders on the Black Sea, the Sea of Azov, and the Kerch Gulf. He, however, added that delimitation talks on them are not at a dead end. The Ukrainian envoy confirmed that Ukraine insists on demarcating both land and sea borders while Russia insists on joint utilization of common sea borders. According to him, Russia's position on the "Black Sea issue" is more flexible. Ratification of the basic Ukrainian-Russian agreement by the Russian parliament would significantly enhance the progress of border delimitation talks, he said.

President Kuchma: Ukrainian-Turkmen Relations Determined By Economics Not Finance

"Relations between our countries are determined by economics and not politics," Ukraine's President Leonid Kuchma said on December 24 at the end of his talks with Turkmenistan's President Saparmurat Niyazov. Mr. Kuchma stressed that the issue of transporting Turkmen natural gas through Russian territory has been resolved at last. According to him, the agreements signed during his visit to Turkmenistan provide a strong basis for development of cooperation between Ukraine and Turkmenistan. During the visit, Messrs. Kuchma and Niyazov signed an agreement on delivery of Turkmen natural gas to Ukraine in 1999 and an agreement on investment projects. Turkmenistan is expected to deliver 20 billion cubic meters of natural gas to Ukraine in 1999.

Crimean Parliamentary Speaker Expresses Satisfaction With Adoption Of Crimean Constitution

The speaker of the Crimean parliament, Leonid Grach has expressed satisfaction with the Crimean constitution adopted this week by the Ukrainian Verkhovna Rada. "The Crimean has got its own constitution at last and there was no compromise in terms of reducing Crimea's authority," Mr. Grach said on December 24 upon arrival from Kyiv. He described the adopted constitution as "a victory for common sense."

Verkhovna Rada Passes Bill To Set Armed Forces' Total Strength For 1999 And 2000

On December 22, 1998 the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine adopted a bill on the Armed Forces' general structure and strength which provides for manning them with 320,000 short-term servicemen, 100,000 career officers, non-coms and sergeants plus 90,000 civilian personnel in 1999 and reducing the Armed Forces' strength to 310,000 military and 90,000 civilian personnel in the year 2000.

Ukraine's Ambassador To Us Meets With Representatives Of Ukrainian-American Public Organizations

On December 18, 1998 Ukraine's recently appointed ambassador to the United States Anton Buteyko has met with leaders of 30 Ukrainian public organizations in Washington. Among the organizations represented were the Ukrainian World Congress, the Ukrainian American Coordinating Council, the Ukrainian Congressional Committee of America, the Ukrainian National Association, and the Ukrainian National Women’s League of America. Mr. Buteyko praised the organizations' contributions to the development of Ukrainian-American relations and the strengthening of the strategic partnership relations between the two countries. He said the Ukrainian embassy intended to focus on strengthening trade and economic cooperation with the US, broadening access of Ukrainian goods to the American market, lifting of antidumping sanctions against Ukrainian manufacturers, protecting the rights and interests of Ukrainian citizens in the US, and removing the obstacles encountered by American businessmen in Ukraine.

Ukrainian Ambassador Meets Leaders Of The American Jewish Community In Washington, DC

On December 23, 1998 newly appointed Ukraine’s Ambassador to the US Anton Buteyko met in Washington, DC, with the leaders of the major organizations of the American Jewish community. He informed them about the political and economic situation in Ukraine, the impact of Russia’s financial crisis on the Ukrainian economy and financial system, relations between Ukraine and Belarus, the Ukrainian government’s efforts toward nuclear non-proliferation. He also told them about Ukraine’s response to Russian State Duma deputy Makashov’s anti-Semitic utterances. The Ukrainian envoy urged greater access for Ukrainian commodities to the American markets through eliminating Cold War barriers hampering normal trade between Ukraine and the USA. The event was co-hosted by the American Jewish Committee and the National Conference of Soviet Jewry.

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