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22 July 1998
For immediate release
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On July 17, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Borys Tarasyuk paid a one-day working visit to Moldova. Mr. Tarasyuk held a tete-à-tete meeting with his Moldovan counterpart, Nikolae Tebekaru, following which the two government delegations began their talks, focused on finalizing borderline delimitation between the two limitrophe states and ways to peaceably settle the Transdniestrian conflict. As reported by DINAU, a segment of the borderline near the town of Djordjulesti, where Moldova is constructing an oil terminal, and some stretches near Balanka and Basaryabska remain to be settled by the parties. The two delegations also discussed preparations for Ukrainian Prime Minister Valeriy Pustovoitenko's upcoming official visit to Moldova. Later in the day, the Ukrainian Foreign Minister met with Moldovan President Petru Lucinski, Parliament Speaker Dimitru Dyakov and Transdniestria leader Igor Smirnov.


Will Ukraine be recognized as a serious and influential mediator in resolving conflicts within the CIS's boundaries? This far from rhetorical question was supposed to be answered during the negotiations Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs Borys Tarasyuk held in Moldova last week, DINAU reported on July 20. The Ukrainian party offered a step-by-step scheme for settling the Transdniestrian conflict, which Foreign Minister Borys Tarasyuk referred to as an informal document attempting to put an end to what may be viewed as the most protracted dispute in the post-Soviet history. As Mr.Tarasyuk disclosed, the scheme is basically aimed at stabilizing the situation in Moldova's breakaway province. Its details remain unclosed, though. Much of the scheme's gist resulted from multipartite consultations Kiev played host to, which preceded Mr. Tarasyuk's visit to Moldova. Thus, the Ukrainian Foreign Minister's trip there was meant to present Ukrainian concepts of reinstating peace in Transdniestria to the host party. Therefore, now the decision rests with the two parties to the conflict. Early results of Mr. Tarasyuk's mediatory mission to Moldova were reported as fairly optimistic. During his talks with Moldovan President Petru Lucinski, Parliament Speaker Dumitru Dyakov, Transdniestria Administration Head Igor Smirnov and Moldovan Foreign Minister Nikolae Tebekaru, Minister Borys Tarasyuk presented quite enough convincing arguments in support of the Ukrainian plan to put an end to the Transdniestrian conflict. Speaking at a press conference to sum up Minister Tarasyuk's mission to Moldova, his Moldovan counterpart, Nikolae Tebekaru, referred to the Ukrainian plan as a "constructive" one with its details certain to be scrutinized by expert groups and interested bodies of power.

Ukraine's latest diplomatic initiative was preceded by earlier moves. Back in July of 1995, Ukraine responded to call from Moldovan and Transdniestrian leaders to act as a go-between in the process of settling the Transdniestrian conflict via diplomatic means. Since then, Ukraine has been most actively involved in this process through Yevhen Levytsky, the Ukrainian President's plenipotentiary representative to Moldova. The OSCE's mission has been involved in this, too. Then, Presidents Leonid Kuchma of Ukraine and Boris Yeltsin of Russia jointly launched their diplomatic initiative to make Ukraine and Russia guarantors of upkeeping Transdniestria's status, which provides for division of authority between Moldova and its province, Transdniestria.

However, as of now, the status remains the subject of much controversy between the two counteragents. In 1996, Transdniestria and in 1997, Moldova appealed to Ukraine to send peacekeepers to Transdniestria. Ukraine agreed to this sending a dozen-strong team of military observers there. According to Ukrainian military attache in Moldova, Col. Oleksandr Shynko, though numerically small, the Ukrainian military contingent is equipped well enough to monitor the situation in Transdniestria pretty closely. The Ukrainian military observers were reported poised to immediately depart for the assigned separation zone in Transdniestria, as soon as the parties to conflict reach an agreement on their status and terms of the their peacekeeping mission to Transdniestria. Since peacekeeping activity there has been specified, so far, on the basis of agreements between Moldova and Russia, the process is to assume a tripartite dimension from henceforth, Moldovan Foreign Minister Tebekaru says.

There are but too many sensitive nodes in the tight Kishenev-Tiraspol bow-string. One of this is Russia's military presence in the region, as Russia still keeps an over 3,500-strong military contingent there. Problems involving the former Russian 14th Army's property and its division stand prominent, too, as its transportation can be carried out by Russia only through Ukraine's territory. The objectively none too easy situation has been much aggravated by the two warring parties stubbornly holding their ground with the Transdniestrian leaders insisting on Transdniestria being recognized as a subject of international law. The Ukrainian Foreign Minister, who is well-versed in European affairs, was reported to have assured Transdniestria leader Igor Smirnov that under no conditions, today's Europe would recognize Transdniestria as a sovereign state. It goes without saying that Ukraine is vitally interested in maintaining peace and stability in Transdniestria. It is not a matter of profit, though, as Moldova is home to over 600,000 ethnic Ukrainians, which account for almost 14 percent of the country’s total population. It should be noted that Ukraine accommodated over 500,000 refugees from Transdniestria. Following his talks with Borys Tarasyuk, Moldovan Foreign Minister Nikolae Tebekaru articulated the host party's appreciation of Ukraine's latest mediator mission referring to the Ukrainian plan as containing a package of step-by-step procedures and clear-cut schedules of the parties' meetings. With Ukraine's diplomatic initiative thus presented to the parties in the conflict, its resolution will depend on their political will.

Next week, the Moldovan and Transdniestrian leaders will meet for talks proceeding from the Ukrainian plan. According to Andriy Veselovsky, the head of Ukrainian Foreign Ministry's political analysis department, this mediatory role fits Ukraine ideally. Ukraine is the only post-Soviet nation with quite a laudable record of solving ethnic conflicts. Besides, Ukraine possesses much geopolitical weight and authority, Mr. Veselovsky was quoted as saying.


The commander of Russia's Black Sea Navy, Admiral Vladimir Kuroyedov, officially introduced a new commander of the fleet, Rear Admiral Vladimir Komoyedov, to Ukraine's Defense Minister Oleksandr Kuzmuk, at a ceremony held in Kiev on July 16. The ceremony was also attended by Admiral Victor Kravchenko, former commander of the Black Sea Fleet. Col. General Kuzmuk thanked Admiral Kravchenko for his contribution to the drafting of the documents on division of the Black Sea Fleet. The Ukrainian defense minister disclosed that Ukraine will hold one instead of three strategic military exercises this year. He expressed confidence that the Ukrainian-Russian exercises code-named "Fairway of Peace" will become traditional. Admiral Kuroyedov confirmed Russia's participation in the Sea Breeze '98 military exercises.


Ukraine's Ambassador to the United States Yuri Shcherbak at an invitation of the Admiral Harold W. Gehman, Jr., Supreme Allied Commander, Atlantic, Commander-in-Chief, US Atlantic Command, has visited SACLANT Headquarters in Norfolk, Virginia. The Ukrainian ambassador met with Admiral Gehman and his deputy, Vice Admiral Ian D.G. Garnett, United Kingdom Navy, who briefed him on the structure and tasks of the Supreme Allied Command in the region. They also discussed ways of broadening cooperation between Ukraine and NATO, particularly within the framework of the Ukrainian-NATO a Distinctive Partnership Charter signed last year in Madrid. Mr. Shcherbak briefed the NATO officers about the concrete results of cooperation between the Ukrainian Armed Forces and NATO and stated his conviction that the Ukrainian-NATO partnership will strengthen regional security and stability. Admiral H.Gehman stressed that NATO attaches special importance to Ukrainian troops' participation in peacekeeping operations under the Partnership for Peace program. The Ukrainian ambassador had a tour of the USS "Hampton" multipurpose nuclear submarine (SSN-767).