Polish Foreign Minister Bronislaw Geremek’s September 15-16 visit to Poland underscored the two nations’ shared interests. Geremek’s talks with President Leonid Kuchma, Prime Minister Valery Pustovoytenko and Foreign Minister Boris Tarasyuk focused on three items: the Odessa-Brody pipeline project to transport Caspian oil to Poland via Ukraine, defense and military-industrial cooperation, and preparation of Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski’s upcoming visit to Ukraine.
In a lecture he delivered at the Ukrainian Institute for International Relations, Geremek pointed out that Poland’s progress toward joining NATO and the European Union benefits Ukraine as well. It increases Ukraine’s opportunities to cooperate with those Western institutions and implicitly consolidates Ukraine’s security.
Kyiv remains concerned that Poland’s accession to the Shengen visa agreements and to European Union’s customs system would create visa and trade barriers on the Ukrainian-Polish border. To offset those effects, the sides discussed a possible special visa regime for Ukrainian citizens and the creation of free trade zones along their mutual border. Bilateral trade turnover is projected to approach US$2 billion in 1998, having grown by 12 percent in the first half of the year compared to the same period in 1997. The trade balance, however, is lopsided in Poland’s favor.
In his capacity as chairman-in-office of the OSCE, Geremek came out in favor of a more active Ukrainian role in peacekeeping operations in Transdniester and Abkhazia. Moldova and Georgia favor such a role for Ukraine. Russia expresses reservations.
Coinciding with Geremek’s visit, an exercise of the Ukrainian-Polish joint battalion began at the Yavoriv military testing grounds in Lviv region (UNIAN, DINAU, Eastern Economist Daily (Kyiv), September 16 and 17).–VS
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