Russian President Boris Yeltsin yesterday ordered the creation of a working group to draft a Treaty of Unification for the top leaders of Russia and Belarus to sign. The working group will be chaired by CIS Cooperation Minister Boris Pastukhov and supervised by Russian Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov. Primakov will also supervise two additional working groups–one on political-legal issues and another on economic ones–to implement the December 25, 1998 declaration by Presidents Boris Yeltsin of Russia and Alyaksandr Lukashenka of Belarus on the “further unification” of the two countries (Itar-Tass, March 18). The first working group is the one which deserves to be taken seriously. With the approach of Russia’s parliamentary and presidential elections, self-generated pressure will mount on politicians to demonstrate dedication to the goal of Russia-Belarus unification. The incumbent authorities are best placed to compete in that game, and may in the process confront the international community with faits accomplis which will be difficult to undo later on.
SHEVARDNADZE HAILS NATO’S ENLARGEMENT, URGES ITS CONTINUATION.