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RUSSIAN PATRIARCH JOINS LUKASHENKA IN APPEAL FOR TRILATERAL SLAVIC UNITY... In a village where the borders of Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine converge, Russian Patriarch Aleksii II and Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka on 27 June called for the unity of the three Slavic and predominantly Orthodox nations. "There are forces in the world whose soul is against the unity of the Slavic peoples. Those forces, using peaceful rhetoric, want to break that unity apart and are engaged in attempts at spiritual and political expansion," AP quoted from a joint statement by Aleksii II and Lukashenka. Aleksii II's fiveday journey through Belarus was seen by many commentators as a thinly veiled challenge to and protest against Pope John Paul II's historic visit to Ukraine. Polish media reported that Aleksii II and Lukashenka failed to gather impressive crowds, adding that the number of presidential bodyguards usually surpassed that of believers willing to see and listen to the Russian patriarch. JM

POPE ENDS VISIT TO UKRAINE. "My hope is that Ukraine will be able fully to become a part of the Europe which will take in the entire continent from the Atlantic to the Urals," Pope John Paul II said in his farewell speech on 27 June. "Your Holiness' visit to Ukraine obviously proved to the world that Ukraine is an integral and natural part of European society," Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma responded to the pontiff during a farewell ceremony at the Lviv airport. "To you, land of Ukraine, I renew my wish for prosperity and peace. Goodbye Ukraine," AP quoted the pope as saying upon his departure to Rome. JM

KYIV ACCUSES EBRD OF FAILURE TO SUPPORT COMPLETION OF TWO REACTORS. Ukraine's delegation to the current session of PACE said on 27 June that the EBRD has failed to meet its obligations on funding the construction of two reactors at the Rivne and Khmelnytskyy nuclear power plants, the "Eastern Economist Daily" reported. The delegation said the EBRD pledged to assign some $1.5 billion for closing the Chornobyl plant and completing the two reactors but allocated only a small part of the declared amount. EBRD President Jean Lemierre responded that the bank is waiting for an IMF decision on the resumption of its cooperation with Ukraine. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Khristenko said the same day in Moscow that Russia will allocate $200 million to Ukraine for the purchase of nuclear fuel and the completion of the reactors. JM

UKRAINE TO COLLECT VAT ON RUSSIAN IMPORTS AS OF 12 JULY. Finance Minister Ihor Mityukov on 27 June said the government decided to introduce VAT on all groups of goods imported from Russia to Ukraine as of 12 July, the "Eastern Economist Daily" reported. The decision is in response to Russia's switch as of 1 July to collecting VAT on goods in countries of their destination. JM

BALTIC STATES IN TRANSPARENCY INTERNATIONAL CORRUPTION PERCEPTION INDEX. Transparency International on 27 June issued its 2001 index on the level of corruption in 91 countries. Finland, with a rating of 9.9, was deemed the least corrupt, followed by Denmark and New Zealand. Bangladesh, with a rating of 0.4, was the most corrupt. Estonia was still deemed the least corrupt state in Central and Eastern Europe with a rating of 5.6 even though it slipped from 27th place in 2000 to 28th place overall this year. Lithuania, with a rating of 4.8, rose from 43-47th place to 38th. Meanwhile, Latvia fell from 57th to 59th place with a rating of 3.4. The ratings of other former communist countries were Hungary (5.3), Slovenia (5.2), Poland (4.1), and Bulgaria, Croatia, and the Czech Republic (all with 3.9), the Slovak Republic (3.7), Moldova (3.1), Romania (2.8), Kazakhstan (2.7), Uzbekistan (2.7), Russia (2.3), Ukraine (2.1), and Azerbaijan (2.0). SG

HUNGARIAN FOREIGN MINISTER SAYS EXPORTS TO NON-EU COUNTRIES MUST INCREASE. Martonyi on 28 June said Hungary would like to conclude more free-trade agreements with neighboring countries and boost waning trade with Russia and Ukraine, saying these countries "represent very large and important long-term markets," dpa reported. Martonyi said that while Budapest wishes to continue and increase exports to EU, it will also pursue the goal of increasing trade with CEFTA countries, Arab and Asian markets, as well as attempt to boost exports to the U.S., Canada, and Japan. MS

A 'YUGOSLAV MODEL' FOR TRANSITION COUNTRIES? "The Washington Post" wrote on 28 June that "the Bush administration...has demonstrated in the case of Yugoslavia that insisting on principles of human rights can strengthen fragile democratic governments. Yugoslavia's democrats and some of their defenders in Europe were slow to accept that truth. For months after Mr. Milosevic's overthrow last year, they argued that arresting him would cause the new democracy to break down, that turning him over to The Hague would reignite Serbia's destructive nationalism. Several European governments appeared more than ready to accept these arguments. However, the Bush administration made clear that U.S. support for Yugoslavia's economic reconstruction would depend on cooperation with the international criminal court. That stand forced Yugoslavia's political elite to make hard choices -- and strengthened those who most favor democratic reforms and alignment with the West.... As the West grapples with other European nations hoping to make that transition in the next few years, including Ukraine and Russia, Yugoslavia may offer a model." PM