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UKRAINE, POLAND PLAN FIVE-NATION SUMMIT ON CASPIAN OIL. Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko and his Polish counterpart Lech Kaczynski told journalists after their talks in Plock, Poland, on March 7 that they are planning to hold an energy summit in May with the participation of the presidents of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Georgia, Polish and international media reported. The summit is to be devoted to bringing Caspian oil to Poland and further to Europe via Ukraine and Georgia. Kaczynski said both countries are strongly committed to the extension of the Odesa-Brody oil pipeline to Plock in Poland in order to ship Caspian oil to Europe. "I would like to emphasize with great satisfaction that we confirmed the practical implementation of this project. We see the logic of continuing political working contacts connected with this project," Polish Radio quoted Yushchenko as saying in Plock. JM

EU DECLARES $650 MILLION IN AID TO UKRAINE. The European Commission said on March 7 that it will give Ukraine 494 million euros ($650 billion) in 2007-10 in an aid package to push political reforms in the country and make it adapt its energy market to European energy needs, dpa reported. In particular, the funds are intended to strengthen good governance and democratic institutions as well as improving the judiciary system in Ukraine. The EU's aid package is meant for the implementation of a new EU-Ukraine cooperation deal, talks on which were launched on March 5 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," March 5, 2007). JM


Yuliya Tymoshenko, one of the most visible and dynamic symbols of the 2004 Orange Revolution in Ukraine, ended her first visit to the United States in 10 years by confidently proclaiming that she has secured the support of the U.S. government to help her build democracy in Ukraine.

Her whirlwind tour of Washington began with an appearance at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington on February 28.

Her message to policymakers in Washington, including meetings with Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, was that she and her political party, the Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc, remain the strongest democratic alternative in Ukraine to Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych's pro-Russian Party of Regions.

The former prime minister devoted much of her speech at the CSIS -- and, indeed, her visit to Washington -- to Ukraine's relations with Western institutions. In particular, she spoke about her party's objective of gaining European Union membership.

However, that same day, German Chancellor Angela Merkel poured cold water on these aspirations, telling Yanukovych in Berlin that the best Ukraine could hope for in the foreseeable future would be a free economic zone between Ukraine and the EU. Merkel indicated that EU membership was not likely for the next 10 years.

For now, Ukraine looks likely to remain in the European Neighborhood Policy (ENP), an EU foreign-policy framework designed to increase integration of countries on the union's borders.

Even the most pro-Western Ukrainian politicians have rejected the ENP as being unfair and discriminatory -- or as some have dubbed it, "the EU doctrine of separate but equal."

There could be other options, though. Tymoshenko told the audience at the CSIS that Yanukovych's deputy prime minister, Mykola Azarov, recently revived the old alternative plan to EU membership -- that Ukraine join with Russia in the Single Economic Space. Tymoshenko said that she is opposed to this plan.

But with Belarus currently estranged from Moscow and the Central Asian states engaged in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, it is not clear what the Kremlin intends to do with the original Single Economic Space plan.

The second major focus of Tymoshenko's message in Washington dealt with Ukrainian energy security and her criticism of RosUkrEnergo, the Swiss-based gas intermediary company, which is responsible for deliveries of natural gas to Ukraine from Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan.

Tymoshenko was openly hostile to the activities of RosUkrEnergo and warned her audiences that this company is intent upon establishing full control over the Ukrainian energy market.

An uncomfortable moment for Tymoshenko came during her briefing at the CSIS when a journalist asked her why she had not visited the United States in over 10 years, and whether this failure was in any way connected to her relationship with former Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko, who was found guilty in a U.S. court on money-laundering charges in June 2004. The journalist asked whether she was afraid of being arrested upon entering the United States. Tymoshenko parried the question, saying that her appearance in the United States was proof that all is well.

In the first indictment of Lazarenko by the U.S. Justice Department, Tymoshenko and her company, Unified Energy Systems of Ukraine, are named as co-conspirators of Lazarenko and she was accused of giving him a substantial bribe. The charges linking Tymoshenko to Lazarenko were later dropped from Lazarenko's indictment as they were not deemed to be within the jurisdiction of a U.S. federal court.

"RFE/RL Belarus & Ukraine Report" is compiled on the basis of a variety of sources.

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