The Union of Oil and Democracy in Pioneer Camp

CRIMEA, Ukraine -- The children center Artek in Crimea celebrates 80-year anniversary and in the same time the former young pioneer camp receives unique Baltic-Black Seas Summit.

The president of Ukraine Victor Yushenko and the president of Georgia Michael Saakashvili on signing of the document on creation of the union of the states

Today, the President of Georgia Mikhail Saakashvili, President of Poland Alexander Kwasniewski and Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus arrived in Artek after the invitation from Ukrainian President Viktor Yushenko. This high-ranking meeting means that Yushenko and Saakashvili's idea about the creation of "alternative Confederation of Independent States (CIS) without Russia" is coming true. More over, the new political structure is shaping up into the dangerous for Moscow "Baltic-Black Sea Corridor."

The Orange Present

Yesterday Ukrainian President Yushenko had three meetings in Crimea: with presidents of Georgia, Poland and Lithuania. After the meeting he invited them to celebrate 80th Aniversary of legendary young pioneer camp. Today they will meet at the round table in Levadia Palace.

The list of participants of the round table gives idea that the leaders will not discuss the past of famous children camp. Neither Kwasniewski nor Adamkus have ever worn red pioneer neck tie. More over, Adamkus spent most of his life in the immigration in the United States and probably never even heard of Artek.

However, the four presidents still would have a lot of common memories. The same leaders gathered in Kiev in the Spring of last year during the "Orange Revolution". Kwasniewski and Adamkus were the mediators for the negotiations among Yushenko, Viktor Yanukovich and Leonid Kuchma. They were active supporters of Yushenko from the beginning. Saakashvili arrive in Kiev a bit later. He came to congratulate Yushenko with the victory.

Moreover, the presidents of Ukraine and Georgia had seen each other a week ago in Borjomi, Georgia. The current meeting on Artek is a widened continuation of the summit in Borjomi.

A week ago Yushenko and Saakashvili came up with a bold idea and decided to discuss that as soon as possible with their counterparts from Lithuania and Poland. The idea is to create the Confederation of Democratic Choice. According to the initial design, this organization should unite democratic regimes of Baltic and Black Seas regions. It is evident that Ukraine, Georgia, Poland and Lithuania should become a core of new organization.

All past week, the Ukrainian foreign ministry was making comments about the president’s idea and persuading the world that new organization is not position itself as a counter balance to "original" CIS. "The Confederation of Democratic Choice (CDC) cannot be an alternative to CIS neither by goals nor by its structure," Boris Tarasyuk, Ukrainian Foreign Minister, said. However, the new confederation would be able to solve some issues and if its authors would be able to make the project work, it might create several problems for Moscow.

The Foggy Past

The group gathered in Artek - Lithuania, Poland, Ukraine and Georgia – is geographically located from Black to Baltic Seas. In fact, the summit in Crimea it is the summit of that Baltic-Black Sea Corridor, which was so actively discussed by politicians in early 1990s.

The idea of integration of post-Soviet republics from Baltic to Black Sea appeared in early 1990s in Minsk. The politicians from Byelorussian People's Front came up with idea to unite Ukraine, Byelorussia and Baltic states, which would cordon off Russia from the Eastern Europe and would control all the cargo routes, including the oil pipelines on its territory.

The Baltic-Black Sea Union, as its designers had in mind, would establish united transportation tariffs - minimal for the members of the union and higher for everybody else. The core of the integration would become the Black Sea oil collector. It would pump Middle Eastern oil from the South to North. And in the future it possible would pump Norwegian gas in opposite direction. Thus, Ukraine, Byelorussia and Baltic countries would finally get rid off energy dependence from Russia.

When Lukashenko came to power in Minsk, it made a serious blow to the idea of Baltic-Black Sea Union, because new Byelorussian president chose other directions of integration. However, the place of Byelorussia was enthusiastically taken by the Poland. Other potential participants did not forget about this project either. The construction of the oil pipeline Odessa -Brody was a first step in this direction. Former Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma was an active supporter of the Baltic-Black Sea Union. In that time Kuchma was considered in Moscow as extremely anti-Russian politician. It was Kuchma who held in 1999 first Baltic-Black Sea forum in Yalta.

Finally, in the end of 1990's appeared the new purpose for Baltic-Black Sea oil collector -- re-export of Caspian oil in Europe bypassing Russia.

The Oil Future

After the "Orange Revolution" in Kiev the ideas of Baltic-Black Sea integration got a new meaning. The new potential adversaries of Moscow have a pretty name "Confederation of Democratic Choice" together with ideology democratization of the region and precise borders. The old doctrine got a new makeover.

President Saakashvili believes that Caspian Sea countries would also join the confederation. Most likely, he means Azerbaijan, and in the future some other countries bordering the sea from the East. This means that Caspian oil might reach Europe through the pipelines Baku-Sulsa, and then Odess-Brody and further to Poland. This week the Ukrainian government asked the Ministry of Fuel and Energy to develop the plan of the construction of new oil refinery plant and finishing the adding additional pipeline to Odessa-Brody, which would lead to Poland’s town of Plotzk.

Ukraine recently was trying to diversify sources for the oil and oil byproducts supply. Not long ago, Pyotr Poroshenko, Secretary of the Security Council, was visiting Iran, where among other subjects he discussed the possibility of energy resources' export. Thus, Kiev is getting ready to lead the new anti-CIS. As Yushenko and Saakashvili promised last week, the true scale of their "Baltic-Black-Caspian Sea" idea would become more visible in a September forum. However, it is evident that today's summit in Artek is another proof that the construction of a democratic-oil block is on the way.

Source: Kommersant