Ex-Soviet States Seek Pro-Democracy Alliance

BORJOMI, Georgia -- Leaders of Ukraine and Georgia called yesterday for an alliance that would champion democracy in the former Soviet lands — a move likely to anger Russian officials concerned about losing clout in the region.

Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili (R), and his Ukrainian counterpart Viktor Yushchenko (L) shake hands during their meeting in Borjomi, Georgia

Ukraine's Viktor Yushchenko and Georgia's Mikhail Saakashvili said the Commonwealth of Democratic Choice will become "a powerful tool for freeing our region from the remaining divisive lines, violations of human rights, any spirit of confrontation and frozen conflicts."

"That will help usher in a new era of democracy, security, stability and peace across Europe, from the Atlantic to the Caspian Sea," the leaders said.

They said the new alliance would be inaugurated at a summit in Ukraine this fall and invited the United States, the European Union and Russia to attend it as observers. They wouldn't elaborate on which specific nations could join.

The plan for a new alliance is likely to irritate the Kremlin, which has viewed massive uprisings that recently toppled unpopular regimes in Georgia, Ukraine and another ex-Soviet nation, Kyrgyzstan, as part of a Western-guided effort to isolate and sideline Russia.

Source: AP