Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 60

Ukrainian president Leonid Kuchma hosted his Azerbaijani counterpart Haidar Aliev on a state visit to Kiev on March 24-25. At yesterday’s concluding news conference, the presidents announced their "complete unity of views" on all issues discussed and the signing of a "declaration of deepening partnership" and a military-industrial cooperation agreement. They dismissed suggestions that Azerbaijan had received "even a single Ukrainian unit" of military hardware since the 1994 Karabakh ceasefire, but did not publicly address the question of future deliveries. Ukrainian foreign minister Hennady Udovenko declared Kiev’s readiness to contribute troops to a future international peacekeeping force in Karabakh, following a hypothetical political agreement that would supplement the ceasefire. The Ukrainian side, in consideration of its own interests, strongly endorsed Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity with regard to Karabakh.

The presidents signed a memorandum of understanding which envisages joint efforts to transport Azerbaijani oil via Georgia and the Black Sea to Ukraine, both for Ukraine’s own consumption and for further export to Central and Western Europe. The route, circumventing Russia, entails four large-scale projects: laying a pipeline across Georgia; creating a maritime ferry link to Ukraine; modernizing and expanding an oil terminal near Odessa; and laying a pipeline to Brody in Ukraine to connect there with the existing Druzhba pipeline. The presidents agreed to turn, jointly with Georgia, to the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development for financing part of the expenses. The project is vital to the three countries in terms of reducing their dependence on Russian fuels and Russian export pipelines. But is also important as a means of ensuring secure access to Caspian oil for European countries. At the concluding news conference, both presidents expressed confidence that Moscow would "not be able to forestall the project."

With an eye to the March 27-28 CIS summit, Kuchma and Aliev remarked that the CIS must ensure the equality of its member countries, which it has not managed to do; and that the organization "in its present state can not satisfy any country." The presidents agreed to "support each other so that our countries become truly sovereign, not only in words but in practice." (Interfax-Ukraine, March 24-25)

OSCE Barred from Transdniester Monitoring Body.