Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma expressed serious concern lest the European Union’s (EU) limited enlargement result in replacing the former Iron Curtain with a “paper curtain” of bureaucratic regulations to the detriment of Ukraine. The country’s western neighbors–Poland and Hungary, soon to be admitted to the EU–are expected by EU authorities in Brussels to introduce strict visa regulations and to limit Ukrainian imports in keeping with EU rules. Kyiv fears that such restrictions could isolate Ukraine from Europe and strengthen the leftist parties’ thesis that Ukraine’s future lies in the east with Russia, not in the west.
Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski demonstrated during this summit–as he has on past occasions–a keen understanding of Ukraine’s position. Kwasniewski reaffirmed Warsaw’s resolve “to do everything possible so that the Polish-Ukrainian border does not become Europe’s border with Ukraine.” Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari–whose country currently holds the EU’s chairmanship–expressed understanding for Ukraine’s concerns and emphasized that the country must be treated as a member of the European family. But Ahtisaari’s chances of changing the views of the authorities in Brussels is open to question (UNIAN, DINAU, Ukrainian TV, September 10-12; Eastern Economist Daily (Kyiv), September 13).
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