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Central European Initiative Meeting in Vienna


By Tom Hagler and Chris Klimiuk



Vienna, May 30 (RFE/RL) -- A two-day meeting of the ten-member Central European Initiative (CEI) convenes tomorrow in Vienna to discuss granting full memership to five associate members: Ukraine, Albania, Belarus, Romania and Bulgaria.

Belarus' application has reportedly met with some opposition. Belarus signed a wide-ranging alliance with Russia in April. One of the functions of the CEI is to ease eastward. expansion of the European Union. Its decision on assimilating nations of East Europe could foreshadow decisions on ultimate EU membership.

Also up for discussion are ways to help rebuild Bosnia. Project funding is to come from a seven-million dollar pool set up by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development for CEI projects.

The forum, set up in 1989, already includes Austria, Bosnia, Croatia, the Czech Republic, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Hungary and Italy. The Initiative also seeks to promote communications links and youth exchange schemes and to coordinate policy on issues such as ethnic rights, migration and crime.

CEI heads of state meet in Lancut, Poland, for another two-day forum beginning June 7.
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