UKRAINE, MOLDOVA, ROMANIA SIGN CRIME-FIGHTING AGREEMENTS. Presidents Leonid Kuchma (Ukraine), Petru Lucinschi (Moldova), and Emil Constantinescu (Romania) met in the Ukrainian border town of Izmail on 3 July, Interfax reported. They signed an agreement on cooperation against crime, weapons, and drug smuggling as well as a document setting up a free economic zone in the border area between the three countries, in the basin of the Danube River. A customs union agreement is expected to be concluded in September as the first concrete step toward establishing a free economic zone. The presidents told reporters after the meeting that the documents they signed will create favorable conditions for the three countries' integration into European institutions.
MULTINATIONAL MILITARY EXERCISE IN UKRAINE. A multinational military exercise codenamed "Cooperative Neighbor-97" began in Ukraine's western Lviv region on 5 July. The maneuver is taking place within the framework of NATO's Partnership for Peace program. Interfax reported that some 1,200 servicemen from Ukraine, the U.S., Greece, the Czech Republic, Moldova, Macedonia, Romania, Slovakia, and Georgia are participating. Italy, Bulgaria, Germany, and the Netherlands have sent observers. At a ceremony at the start of the exercises, Ukrainian Defense Minister Olexander Kuzmuk stressed the importance of Ukraine's participation in the Partnership for Peace program. At the NATO summit in Madrid on 8-9 July, Ukraine will sign a special partnership charter with the alliance. U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen is expected to attend the closing of the exercise on 14 July.