Yesterday in Kiev, Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma addressed a meeting of heads of district state administrations, and said that there could be no question of a Russian-Ukrainian "strategic partnership" (an often-used Moscow phrase) if the two countries "can’t live in peace even in one city." This was a reference to Sevastopol, where Russia seeks exclusive military basing rights. Kuchma said that Ukraine will never give up Sevastopol. Nor does the idea of a "common customs space" make sense in the absence of a common pricing policy, he added. Kuchma said that trade with Russia is important to Ukraine, but said that Russia’s concept of a customs union "runs counter to Ukraine’s national interests," in part because it opens the way for Russian capital to take over Ukrainian enterprises.
Also yesterday, Ukraine’s foreign affairs, foreign economic relations, and justice ministries officially recommended to the Ukrainian parliament that the legislature decline to join the CIS Interparliamentary Assembly (IPA) as a full member. The ministries recommended that the parliament maintain its present status as an observer at the IPA and that it should decline signing its basic documents because they contradict Ukraine´s laws and national interests. IPA seeks to evolve from a consultative into a supranational legislative organ, the ministries cautioned. (13)
Kuchma’s remarks acknowledge with greater openness than usual the deadlock in the Black Sea Fleet negotiations, which Kiev as a rule tries to present in a nonalarmist light. Kuchma’s complaint about inequitable Russian trade practices are the latest in a series of recent complaints by him and Prime Minister Yevhen Marchuk. The IPA is headquartered in St.Petersburg and is chaired by Yeltsin’s ally, Russian Federation Council Chairman Vladimir Shumeiko. It is comprised of delegates of the parliaments of CIS member states, who meet at infrequent intervals and are not empowered to adopt binding decisions. But the IPA’s Russian members and its permanent staff seek to expand its powers, for example through conflict mediation in CIS countries and by drawing up human rights and other charters which CIS member countries are expected to sign as binding documents. Shumeiko’s own grand design for the IPA is to draw up "model" or "master" laws which would be duplicated with minor local variations by member countries as part of "legislative integration" in the CIS. Some "red" deputies, mainly from Russian-populated eastern Ukraine, currently demand full membership of the IPA as a quid-pro-quo for approving the terms of Ukraine’s membership in the Council of Europe.
Court to Decide Election Law Conflict.