Addressing a meeting of the presidents of Eastern and Central European countries in Salzburg yesterday, Ukrainian president Leonid Kuchma called for "unambiguous assurances" from the European Union and NATO that their planned eastward expansion will not be limited to a few countries, and that "these organizations will keep their doors open to all countries willing to join them" in a follow-up stage. Kuchma urged the EU and NATO to take into account Ukraine’s vital interests "during the transitional period as the first enlargement stage proceeds." He proposed starting talks toward a "special partnership" between Ukraine and NATO, "partial associate membership" of Ukraine in the EU, and "associate partner" status for Ukraine in the EU’s defense arm, the West European Union. Advising against the peacetime deployment of nuclear weapons on the territories of NATO’s prospective new member countries, Kuchma called attention to his proposal to establish a Central and East European nuclear-free zone. Ukraine’s orientation toward Western Europe "is our choice and our path from which we will not deviate," Kuchma said. (Interfax-Ukraine, July 8)
Ukraine was the sole former Soviet republic attending the Salzburg summit. Kuchma’s set of proposals synthesizes ideas aired lately by presidential advisers and Foreign Ministry officials, who have been in search of forms of gradual accession to Western institutions which would not alarm Moscow. Ukraine’s opposition to the stationing of nuclear weapons in the region in peacetime does not appear controversial since NATO itself is not known to plan such measures at this stage.
Georgia Approaches UN and Abkhaz Leaders.