Ukraine Moves toward the European Economy

GDASNK, Poland -- The VIII Ukraine–Poland economic forum opened yesterday in Gdasnk, where the presidents of Ukraine and Poland, Viktor Yushchenko and Alexsander Kwasniewski, will arrive today to take part. Kiev is pinning particular hopes on cooperation with Poland, relations with which have significantly strengthened since the Orange Revolution, which received support from Warsaw.

Ukraine's President Viktor Yushchenko (R) and his Polish counterpart Aleksander Kwasniwski

Last year's Ukraine–Poland economic summit was held in Yalta two months after Poland's entry into the EU. Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski and then Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma took part in the proceedings. At that time, relations between the two countries were difficult. However, this past year, Ukraine and Poland have become close allies. The new Ukrainian President, Viktor Yushchenko, who said his ultimate goal during his term in office was see Ukraine join the European Union, is steadfastly counting on Poland's help in this. Talks between Yushchenko and Kwasniewski are planned within the framework of the present summit. The presidents last met a week ago when they opened a memorial in the Polish military cemetery in Lviv; in Kuchma's time, the opening was repeatedly postponed due to political differences.

The recent strengthening of ties between Kiev and Warsaw has already had a favorable effect on Polish public opinion. Results of the latest polls published just before Yushchenko's visit to Poland show that Poles have started to think better of Ukraine. For the first time since Ukraine became independent, Poles have a greater liking for it than Germany (8 percent more). However, Poles consider Czechs and Slovaks their best neighbors, and Russia and Belarus as their worst.

Working meetings went on yesterday as part of the forum, which was organized by the Polish Chamber of Commerce. The concluding documents and agreements will be signed today; the most important of these is an agreement on the privatization of the Warsaw auto plant FSO (Fabryka Samochodow Osobowych) by the Ukrainian corporation AvtoZAZ. The Polish plant, set up in 1948, first put out the Polish versions of the Pobeda (Warszawa and Syrena) and then produced cars under license of the Italian company Fiat (Polish Fiat and Polonez). Today, the plant produces mainly Daewoo products. According to Kommersant's information, after the plant is modernized in 2007, a new car model will be introduced. This will be a cross between the Zaporozhets and the Tavria costing up to 8000 zloty (€2000) each. There are plans to output 150,000 cars, which will be sold in Ukraine, Central Asia, and maybe even Poland itself.

Source: Kommersant

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