CEFTA SUMMIT IN SLOVENIA. A summit of the Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA) took place in the Slovenian resort of Portoroz on 12-13 September. The meeting was attended by the prime ministers of the six member countries: Slovenia, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, and Romania. Officials of six countries seeking membership--Bulgaria, Croatia, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, and Ukraine--were guests. In his opening address, Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Drnovsek said CEFTA membership would help countries prepare to join the EU. CEFTA was established in 1991 to abolish trade barriers and establish a free trade area by 2001. Czech Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus, along with several others, emphasized that the organization is not simply a form of training for the EU. Rather, he said, it is proof of the commitment to open and liberal market economics.
UKRAINE TO SIGN TRADE TREATIES WITH CEFTA STATES. Ukrainian Prime Minister Valery Pustovoitenko has agreed with CEFTA on a plan for Ukraine's entry into the organization, Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Trade and Economic Ties Sergei Osynka told Interfax-Ukraine on 14 September . The scheme envisages concluding bilateral freetrade agreements with CEFTA members. Osynka said the Polish and Slovak prime ministers want to complete talks with Ukraine on such agreements later this year. The Slovenian prime minister expressed the wish to sign bilateral accords with Kyiv by the end of this year or by early 1998.
UKRAINE SEEKS TO ATTRACT MORE FOREIGN INVESTMENT. Ukraine has set up a Chamber of Independent Ombudsmen to help mediate disputes between foreign investors and government offices, UNIAN reported on 12 September. The new body includes specialists on Ukrainian and international law and representatives of consulting firms, whose task is to help resolve disputes and make recommendations to the government and president. Roman Shpek, head of the new chamber and director of the Agency for Reconstruction and Development, told journalists that Ukrainians must understand there is a serious problem with attracting foreign investment to their country. He estimated that Ukraine has attracted only $1.6 billion in foreign investment during the past six years-- which, he noted, is less than neighboring Romania.