Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 40

On February 24-25 in Kyiv, President Leonid Kuchma and Prime Minister Valery Pustovoytenko discussed with Polish Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek a set of ambitious plans designed to tie Ukraine closer to Poland and, through it, to Western Europe. The plans include: (1) constructing an import terminal for Caspian oil near Odessa and the planned Black Sea-Baltic Sea pipeline from Odessa to Gdansk; (2) forming a consortium and attracting West European investments and European Bank for Reconstruction and Development credits for this project; (3) modernizing Polish and Ukrainian sections of the Berlin-Kyiv railroad; (4) constructing a state-of-the-art rail link between Lviv (Ukraine) and Przemysl (Poland); (5) working out border-crossing regulations that would not discriminate against Ukrainians, once Poland joins the European Union’s (EU) Schengen visa system; (6) opening and equipping additional crossing points on the Ukrainian-Polish border; (7) using Polish expertise in restructuring Ukraine’s coal industry; (8) cooperating in the military-industrial sector; (9) taking political steps (in Kuchma’s and Pustovoytenko’s words) “to ensure that Ukraine is not consigned to a zone of uncertain status” after the current round of the EU’s enlargement (UNIAN, Eastern Economist Daily (Kyiv), February 24-26).

Most of these intentions are premised on Poland’s accession to the European Union and on Warsaw’s comprehension–not always evident in Brussels–of the European interest in avoiding the isolation of Ukraine, once the latter’s western neighbors join the EU. That comprehension is shared across most of Poland’s political spectrum, including the left-of-center President Aleksandr Kwasniewski. But it is a sentiment especially keen among veteran Solidarity activists who are currently in government, such as Buzek and Defense Minister Janusz Onyszkiewicz. The recent Kwasniewski-Kuchma meeting in Warsaw and Onyszkiewicz visit to Kyiv went on in the same spirit (see the Monitor, January 18, February 12).–VS