BELARUS SAYS UKRAINIAN RECALL OF INVITATION TO YALTA 'UNFRIENDLY.' The Belarusian Foreign Ministry said on 9 September that Ukraine had made an "inconsistent" and "unfriendly" step by revoking an invitation to Belarus for the Yalta international conference on 10-11 September. According to the ministry, Ukraine took this step because Minsk has "difficulties" in its relations with the EU. However, the ministry added, neither the EU nor the OSCE have discussed the list of Yalta conference participants with Ukraine, therefore Kyiv canceled Belarus's invitation completely on its own. The same day, UNIAN quoted Andriy Veselovskyy from Ukraine's Foreign Ministry as saying that Ukraine never issued an invitation to Belarus to participate in the Yalta forum. JM

UKRAINE HOSTS SUMMIT OF BLACK SEA, BALTIC STATES. On 10-11 September in Yalta, Ukraine is hosting a forum titled "The Baltic-Black Sea Cooperation: Toward an Integrated Europe of the 21st Century Without Dividing Lines." The forum will feature a summit of presidents and senior officials from 22 countries of the Baltic-Black Sea region and a scientific conference of some 150 representatives from international organizations, including NATO, the EU, the OSCE, and the Council of Europe. "The summit aims to establish a new kind of political and economic relationship between northern and southern European countries," presidential spokesman Oleksandr Martynenko said on 9 September. "Europe was divided in Yalta once. Our main dream is that this should never happen again," President Leonid Kuchma said earlier this week. Commentators say Kuchma also hopes for a show of regional support to his re-election bid. JM

UKRAINE'S RUKH LAWMAKERS PROTEST SOVIET-ERA SYMBOLS. Some 40 deputies from the two rival factions of the Popular Rukh walked out of a parliamentary session on 9 September to protest the rejection of their proposal to remove Soviet-era symbols from the parliament building. The walkout appeared to be the first demonstration of unity between Rukh legislators after the organization split into two factions earlier this year and nominated two presidential candidates. JM

ROMANIA RETALIATES AGAINST YUGOSLAVIA ON DANUBE RIVER. Transportation Minister Traian Basescu on 9 September announced that Romania will block all Yugoslav ships anchored in the Black Sea port of Constanta and will prohibit Yugoslav vessels from sailing to Constanta on the Danube-Black Sea channel. The measure is being taken in retaliation for Yugoslavia's blocking of Romanian vessels near Novi Sad and prohibition on Romanian vessels to the Dunav-Tisa-Dunav bypass of the Danube River, which is blocked by wrecks of bridges destroyed by NATO air strikes, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. Earlier on 9 September, Bulgarian Transportation Minister Wilhelm Kraus proposed a trilateral Bulgarian-Romanian-Ukrainian meeting to discuss introducing reciprocal steps against Yugoslavia, BTA reported. MS

MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT OPTIMISTIC ON TRANSDNIESTER CONFLICT. President Petru Lucinschi on 9 September told the OSCE mission chief to Moldova, William Hill, that he is optimistic about finding a solution to the dispute with the Transdniester separatists, Infotag reported. Lucinschi said that the accords reached at the Kyiv July summit stipulate that the conflict must be settled on the principle of a single state, with a single economic, legal, and defense structure and that the dialogue must now proceed on that basis. During his visit to Moscow earlier this month, he said, the possibility of setting up a Russian base in the Transdniester was not discussed, as this would be contrary to the constitutional provision that Moldova is a neutral state. He said that the Russian leadership confirmed its backing of settling the dispute with the separatists by granting Transdniester a special status "within an indivisible Moldova." MS

KAZAKHSTAN'S PRESIDENT WANTS CLOSER ECONOMIC COOPERATION WITH UKRAINE. Meeting on 9 September in Astana with a visiting delegation from Dniprodzerzhinsk, Nursultan Nazarbaev advocated reviving traditional economic cooperation between the two countries, Interfax reported. Nazarbaev said that cooperation is currently hindered by the high railroad tariffs Russia imposes on foreign goods. Nazarbaev is scheduled to visit Kyiv next week for talks on the export of Kazakh crude to Ukraine for refining at the Lisichansk refinery. LF