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UKRAINIAN VILLAGERS BLOCK NATO TRAINING GROUND OVER MYSTERIOUS ILLNESS. Some 300 residents of the village of Verblyany in Lviv Oblast blocked roads and military traffic leading to the Yavorivskyy training area on 29 September, thus halting joint exercises by Ukrainian troops and a NATO battalion from Italy, Interfax reported. The villagers maintain that about 120 children have suffered from severe coughing since shortly after the Italian troops arrived at the training range. They suggest that the apparent illness, which they say has affected local children during the course of military exercises in recent years, may be linked to exercises at the training ground. NATO has used the Yavorivskyy training facility since 1997. JM
UKRAINE, POLAND TO MAKE JOINT BID TO HOST EURO SOCCER CHAMPIONSHIPS. Ukraine and Poland have agreed to submit a joint bid to host the EURO 2012 soccer championships, Reuters reported on 29 September, quoting the Ukrainian Soccer Federation (FFU). "I think this is a great undertaking for both countries and we already asked the presidents of the two nations to give this project their full support," FFU President Hryhoriy Surkis said. Last year there was a proposal for a joint Russia-Ukraine bid to stage the 2008 European finals, but it was rejected by the Russians, who bid alone and lost. JM
POLAND, SPAIN WANT TO MAINTAIN EU VOTING SYSTEM AGREED IN NICE. Visiting Polish Foreign Minister Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz and his Spanish counterpart Ana Palacio issued a joint statement on 30 September urging the EU to stick with the voting system spelled out in the Treaty of Nice for the Council of Ministers, PAP reported. That 2000 treaty grants Poland and Spain 27 votes each in the council, only two votes less than Germany, France, and Great Britain. The EU's current draft constitution makes voting in the council dependent on the population of member states (see "RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report," 23 September 2003). Meanwhile, the right-wing Law and Justice (PiS) party has demanded that a national referendum be held in Poland to decide on the adoption of a European constitution. PiS deputy head Kazimierz Michal Ujazdowski told PAP that the current draft constitution centralizes the EU around France and Germany at the expense of smaller members. JM