Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 167

Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma hosted on September 10-11 a summit meeting of fourteen Baltic, Central European, Black Sea and South Caucasus countries. The presidents of Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan joined Kuchma at the summit in Yalta’s Livadia palace. Kuchma and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Borys Tarasyuk–who played a key role in organizing the summit–chose the venue for its historic connotations. The Livadia palace had been the scene of the 1945 Yalta conference–a symbol of the partition of Europe and the expansion of Moscow’s sphere of influence. None of the nations affected had been represented at the 1945 conference. The presidents of those nations, now independent, gathered at the Yalta 1999 summit to underscore the demise of Yalta 1945 and the imperative of precluding any new dividing lines.

The message was also partly intended to respond to Western European–particularly European Union–foot-dragging on institutionalizing relations with the nations which restored or gained their independence almost a decade ago. Held under the motto, “Baltic-Black Sea Cooperation: Toward a Europe Without Dividing Lines in the Twenty-First Century,” the summit issued a declaration defining the entire Baltic-South Caucasus area as a “complementary part of an undivided Europe.” It called for accelerating bilateral and multilateral cooperation among the area’s countries–and between these countries and the West–in the spheres of energy, transport and communications, democratic institution-building, political consultations, conflict-prevention and resolution, and the creation of a common security system apt to respond adequately to contemporary threats and challenges. The fourteen presidents put on record their countries’ “overarching common goal–the creation of a united and indivisible Europe.”

The summit consisted of a plenary meeting and a multitude of bilateral meetings among the presidents and foreign ministers. This flexible format enabled the national leaders to broach regional, subregional and bilateral issues, in keeping with the summit’s goal to harmonize common interests with national ones. The countries agreed to support each other’s efforts to join or move closer to the European Union, the Central European Free Trade Association (CEFTA), the World Trade Organization, NATO and other international institutions. Some of the fourteen countries at the summit are members of one or another of those organizations, or relatively close to admission. Those countries are, or will soon be, in a position to support the candidacies of the other countries from the Baltic-Black Sea-South Caucasus area (UNIAN, DINAU, September 10-12).