Ukraine Ambassador Discusses South Caucasus Policy

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–During Azeri Minister of Defense Safar Abiyev’s recent visit to Ukraine the possibility of forming a joint military sub-unit of the GUUAM member-countries (GUUAM – Georgia–Ukraine–Uzbekistan–Azerbaijan–Moldova) was discussed. Abiyev was reported to have stated that the GUUAM member-countries reached an agreement "on forming a joint sub-unit to participate in peace-making operations in conflict situations." Abiyev was also reported to have requested from the leaders of the Ukrainian Supreme Rada that the Rada recognize Armenia as an aggressor. Abiyev reportedly was promised that the issue be considered.

Ukrainian Ambassador to Armenia Alexander Bozhko commented on these reports.

Responding to the question as to what is meant by the definition "conflict situations" and–if Karabakh falls under this definition–what reaction may be expected under the below-mentioned program–Bozhko said:

"During the Azeri defense minister’s visit to Ukraine a Program of bilateral military cooperation for 2001 was signed. It is international practice which has not yet been rejected. The document does not contain the point on `the formation of a joint sub-unit to participate in peacemaking operations in conflict situations’.

"As regards to the intention of a number of countries to form a sub-unit for jointly guarding oil and gas pipe-lines–this fact–I think–must not arouse the Armenia’s concern. On the contrary–considering the fact that in the recent past Armenia experienced the consequences of explosions of gas pipe-lines–you–must understand the wish of the countries concerned to ensure safe and uninterrupted supply of energy sources. Thus the possibility of forming sub-units for guarding service lines must be considered. In addition–within the CIS framework Ukraine is willing to develop mutually advantageous relations with all the CIS member-countries – both on the bilateral and on a multilateral basis. But–the involvement in any politico-military alliances is not in conformity with the goals and tasks of Ukraine’s foreign policy.

Bozhko stated that the Karabakh conflict was not discussed during the Azeri defense minister’s meeting with the First Deputy Chairman of the Ukrainian Supreme Rada Victor Medvedchuk. According to Bozhko–the issue of the SR’s International Affairs Committee requesting a comprehensive study of the situation in Karabakh was discussed. The ambassador pointed out that Ukraine is trying to implement a balanced policy in the South Caucasus. "It is on this principle that Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma’s initiative of mediation in the settlement of the conflict is based," Bozhko said.

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