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Ukraine: Kuchma Rejects EU Criticism

Warsaw, 16 October 2002 (RFE/RL) -- Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma (pictured, far left) today defended his country against European Union accusations that it is drifting away from European integration. EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana earlier today said he is "very worried" about the state of Ukraine and its internal problems. EU, Polish, and Ukrainian representatives met in Warsaw to discuss Ukraine's future.

Kuchma, reacting to Solana's comments, said the EU had earlier responded positively to Ukraine's reform efforts. He also stressed that Ukraine cannot be compared to EU candidate countries such as Poland, because of Ukraine's Soviet history.

At the same meeting yesterday, Solana said Ukraine needs to stay out of the arms trade and to obey the rules of democracy or risk becoming isolated on the fringes of Europe.

U.S. and British experts are currently in Kyiv investigating allegations that Kuchma approved the sale of radar equipment to Iraq, in violation of UN sanctions. Kuchma denies the allegations.