Ukrainian president Leonid Kuchma told the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe yesterday in Strasbourg that Ukraine’s choice of national independence and reforms is "irreversible." Kuchma went on to note that the Commonwealth of Independent States "doesn’t work" and that any future formation of former Soviet republics will have the same results as the CIS. Reaffirming Kiev’s opposition to the creation of supranational bodies within the CIS, Kuchma said that Ukraine aspires to join the European Union eventually as a full member. He urged the parliamentarians of EU countries to accelerate the ratification of Ukraine’s partnership and cooperation agreement with the EU.
Basing its relations with Russia on respect for state independence, territorial integrity, and noninterference in internal affairs, Ukraine will "never agree" to leaving Sevastopol exclusively to the Russian Navy, Kuchma said. He also suggested giving renewed consideration to earlier proposals on creating a political and economic association of Central and East European states to facilitate their gradual integration with Euro-Atlantic organizations, pending their extension eastward. Kuchma supported the creation of a nuclear-free zone in this entire region. (Interfax-Ukraine, April 23)
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