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UZBEKISTAN SEEKS TO CLARIFY ITS RELATIONS WITH GUUAM. Uzbekistan has not withdrawn from GUUAM, but merely "suspended" its participation in that grouping, an unnamed Uzbek Foreign Ministry spokesman said in Tashkent on 25 June, according to Interfax. He was commenting on Ukrainian Foreign Minister Anatoliy Zlenko's statement in Istanbul earlier the same day that Tashkent's original statement on its relations with GUUAM was "misinterpreted" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 14 June 2002). LF

EU OFFICIAL SPEAKS ON UKRAINE'S EFFORTS TOWARD EUROPEAN INTEGRATION. Francesco Luciani, the deputy head of the European Union's delegation in Ukraine, on 25 June urged Ukrainian officials to have realistic expectations about membership in the union, AP reported. Speaking at a meeting in Kyiv to discuss the EU-Ukraine summit in July, he praised Ukraine's "excellent results" in improving law enforcement and democracy, but noted that money laundering continues to be a problem. Earlier this month, the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force refused to remove Ukraine from a list of countries that are "uncooperative" in implementing legislation and regulations for preventing money laundering. Luciani characterized efforts to stop human trafficking (Ukraine is now a "Tier 2" country in prevention of human trafficking, according to the U.S. State Department) and weapons as "impressive" signs of Ukraine's commitment to the EU. But he also noted that Ukraine still lags behind in economic reforms, and that European investment in the country is low. RK

CATO INSTITUTE RANKS UKRAINE'S ECONOMIC FREEDOM. The latest CATO Institute Economic Freedom of the World (EFW) index currently available for 123 countries, and which measures the consistency of a country's policies and institutions with economic freedom, placed Ukraine at the bottom of the list along with the Democratic Republic of Congo, Myanmar, Guinea-Bissau, and Algeria. The Russian Federation was two places ahead of Ukraine but behind Zimbabwe on the CATO list. The key ingredients of economic freedom, according to CATO, are personal choice, voluntary exchange, freedom to compete, and protection of person and property. According to the report, "institutions and policies are consistent with economic freedom when they provide an infrastructure for voluntary exchange and protect individuals and their property from aggressors seeking to use violence, coercion, and fraud to seize things that do not belong to them." CATO noted that legal and monetary mechanisms are important in that governments promote economic freedom when they provide a legal structure and law enforcement system that protects the property rights of owners and enforces contracts in an even-handed manner. RK

NATO TO JOINTLY DEFEND CZECH AIR SPACE DURING SUMMIT. Alexander Vondra, Czech government commissioner in charge of preparations for the November NATO summit, told journalists on 25 June that during the event the alliance will help the Czech Air Force in defending the country's airspace, CTK reported. The Czech Air Force has only several outdated MiG-21 fighters, and is also using Czech-made subsonic L-159 aircraft. Vondra expressed his satisfaction with the preparations for the summit. He added that three separate NATO summits will in fact take place in Prague in November. In addition to the one that is to decide on the organization's expansion, a meeting of representatives of the 46 members of the Partnership for Peace Program, and one of the NATO-Ukraine Commission will also take place at the highest level, he said. MS

TRANSDNIESTER NEGOTIATIONS TO BE RESUMED NEXT MONTH... The negotiations with the Transdniester separatists are to be resumed in Kyiv on 2-3 July, chief Moldovan negotiator Vasile Sturza said on 25 June. David Schwartz, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's (OSCE) mission chief in Moldova, told journalists the same day that only the special status of the Transdniester will figure on the meeting's agenda, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. MS