TRACECA CONFERENCE PARTICIPANTS SIGN 'BAKU DECLARATION'... Participants at the 8 September TRACECA conference in Baku signed a multilateral framework agreement on construction of the Europe-Caucasus-Asia transport corridor, Turan and ITAR-TASS reported. Four technical agreements on road and rail transport and customs procedures were also signed. Speakers at the conference underscored that all states that participate in the corridor project stand to benefit, predicting that it will facilitate economic cooperation and trade and underpin regional stability. Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma noted that the project will "put an end to the threat of the Balkanization of the Caucasus and Central Asia." LF

UKRAINE CRACKS DOWN ON ORGANIZED CRIME IN CIS. In a large-scale operation undertaken in Odessa, the Ukrainian police and security service have arrested 48 people who had intended to hold a "Mafia conference," Ukrainian Television reported on 8 September. Interfax reported that a total of 109 people were arrested, including underground leaders from 30 regions of Ukraine as well as from Russia, Belarus, Moldova, Kazakhstan, and the Transcaucasus. According to law enforcement agencies, those arrested had planned to meet in Odessa on 5 September to redivide spheres of influence and plan future joint operations. JM

UKRAINE DENIES BANNING ROMANIAN LANGUAGE IN ODESSA REGION. The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry has rejected claims voiced recently in Romanian press that the Ukrainian authorities have banned the use of Romanian (called Moldovan in Ukraine) in schools in Odessa Oblast, dpa reported on 8 September. According to the ministry, there has been no change in the status of Romanian schools or in language policies in Ukraine since 1991. The ministry says that the Romanian claims are "absolutely groundless" and can be attributed to a "political and propaganda campaign" launched against Ukraine in the Romanian press. JM