Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 178

Presidents Leonid Kuchma of Ukraine and Aleksander Kwasniewski of Poland met in Crimea on September 27-28 for a “no-necktie” summit, their fifth in the last twelve months. The presidents cited the frequency of their meetings as evidence that the Ukrainian-Polish “strategic partnership” constitutes a “palpable fact,” not just a figure of speech. They resolved to task a bilateral group of experts to draw up a feasibility study for the transit of Caspian oil via Ukraine to Poland–“one of the most promising among the available options.”

Kwasniewski agreed that Poland, a prospective full member of the European Union, would support Ukraine’s goal to become an associate member of the EU and, in a follow-up stage, to conclude a free trade treaty with it. The presidents also agreed to establish regulations that would keep the mutual border open for bilateral tourism and business, after Poland joins the European Union’s Schengen system of border controls. Kwasniewski suggested that controls to be introduced on the Polish-Ukrainian border would not be any more restrictive than the regulations on the Polish-German border prior to Poland’s accession to the Schengen treaty.

The presidents did not allow their meeting to be overshadowed by a recent incident in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv–Lwow to Poles. Last week, unidentified vandals defaced the graves of Polish soldiers in that city. The incident exposed an old territorial dispute that was conclusively laid to rest after 1991. Kuchma and Kwasniewski reaffirmed the two nations’ adherence to last year’s bilateral document on historic reconciliation.

In parallel to the presidents’ meeting, Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council head Volodymyr Horbulin and his Polish counterpart Marek Siwek reviewed bilateral security and military cooperation. The Ukrainian-Polish joint battalion–which was set up with British assistance–has just held a joint combat exercise (UNIAN and other Ukrainian agencies, September 28; Eastern Economist Daily (Kyiv), September 29).–VS