UKRAINE, LATVIA ENVISION COMMON ECONOMIC SPACE.
Publication: Monitor Volume: 1 Issue: 140
The presidentsof Ukraine and Latvia, Leonid Kuchma and Guntis Ulmanis, told a joint news conference in Kiev November 22 that they are interested in creating a Baltic-Black Sea "economic space." During Ulmanis’ two-day visit the sides agreed to create a joint commission to implement agreements on mutual diplomatic support, trade, and cooperation in the military-industrial sector. The presidents also discussed the possible construction of a Black Sea-Baltic Sea oil pipeline, contingent on the materialization of a plan to bring Middle Eastern oil to Ukraine’s port Odessa via Turkey. Kuchma accepted NATO’s enlargement and Latvia’s accession to the alliance as an "evolutionary, not a mechanically accelerated process." Ulmanis termed Latvian-Ukrainian relations "exemplary". (13)
The idea of close cooperation among the peoples of the region stretching from the Baltic to the Black Sea dates back to the nineteenth century and the interwar period, as a plan to secure the region’s freedom from Russian domination. The idea reemerged after the fall of communism, but lost some of its strength after its main promoter and historic source, Poland, became eligible for NATO membership. Some elite groups in former western Soviet republics continue to see Baltic-Black Sea region-wide cooperation as a means to ultimately reduce economic dependency on Russia; but the position of Belarus jeopardizes such plans. Moreover, Russian fears of a cordon sanitaire have forced the idea’s promoters to move cautiously at best.
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