Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 91

NATO secretary general Javier Solana paid a one-day visit to Kiev yesterday for the opening of NATO’s Information Center in the Ukrainian capital. In what was described as a secondary goal of his visit, Solana discussed with President Leonid Kuchma and other Ukrainian officials the draft of the NATO-Ukraine special partnership agreement, which the sides hope to sign at the alliance’s Madrid summit in July. Kuchma commented with unusual reserve that he "does not have differences" with Solana; and the latter withheld comment on the document’s content. The present draft is believed to contain only political assurances from NATO on relations with Ukraine, rather than the mix of political and legal provisions that Kiev seeks.

The sides also discussed proposed changes to the 1990 Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty. On the eve of his visit, Solana publicly urged the Ukrainian leadership to agree to the changes before the May 15 deadline of the negotiations underway in Vienna. Kuchma for his part reportedly sought and received assurances from Solana that the changes would not enable "other states" — meaning Russia — "to station forces in Ukraine without its consent." Contained in a draft document to be attached to the original treaty, the changes would revise "flank" quotas in some areas to Russia’s advantage and, in the view of several newly-independent countries, could also be interpreted or stretched to justify the continued stationing of Russian troops on their territories.

In a gesture timed to Solana’s visit, 187 Ukrainian parliamentary deputies joined a "Ukraine Outside NATO" grouping in the legislature. The group is comprised mostly of leftists and amounts to more than one third of the parliamentary seats. It aims to influence Kiev’s foreign policy so as to "prevent Ukraine from joining NATO, [and] prevent NATO from enlarging eastward." Its platform also encourages cooperation with the CIS, "Ukraine’s neighbors," and the European Union, in that order. The parliament’s Socialist chairman, Oleksandr Moroz, whose party is the mainstay of "Ukraine Outside NATO," used his meeting with Solana to present the group’s agenda.

NATO’s Information Center in Kiev "should dispel that kind of ideological stereotype" and demonstrate that "we are dealing with an alliance of democracies," Foreign Minister Hennady Udovenko said yesterday. (Ukrinform, Interfax-Ukraine, UNIAN, May 7)

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