Presidents Leonid Kuchma of Ukraine and Suleyman Demirel of Turkey ascertained their countries’ common interests in the Black Sea region during Demirel’s official visit to Ukraine from May 21 to 23. (See story in Russian Federation section.) The presidents came out in favor of Ukraine’s participation in laying an oil pipeline across Asian Turkey from Ceyhan to Samsun, as part of an international system for the transport of Caspian oil. They also discussed Ukraine’s offer to supply up to 1,000 T-84 battle tanks to Turkey for an overall price of US$2 billion. Turkey is in the market for that number of tanks as part of its rearmament program. Kuchma and Demirel described their countries’ relationship as one of partnership.
Demirel spent in Crimea the final day of his visit, conferring with the autonomous republic’s newly elected parliamentary leadership under Leonid Hrach and with local Tatar leaders. Demirel pledged to complete the Turkish-financed housing construction program of 1,000 apartments for Crimean Tatar repatriates and to increase the number of student scholarships for Crimean Tatars in Turkey. The Turkish president termed the Crimean Tatars–as he has on previous occasions–as a “friendship bridge” between Ukraine and Turkey. (Ukrainian agencies, May 22 and 23)
FIGHTING IN ABKHAZIA PRODUCES NEW GEORGIAN EXODUS.