German, Polish, Ukrainian foreign ministers meet

21st March 2005, Comments 0 comments

21 March 2005, KIEV - A trilateral meeting of foreign ministers from Germany, Poland and Ukraine began on Monday with visa requirements for Ukrainian citizens prominent on the agenda.

21 March 2005

KIEV - A trilateral meeting of foreign ministers from Germany, Poland and Ukraine began on Monday with visa requirements for Ukrainian citizens prominent on the agenda.

German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer and his Polish counterpart Adam Rotfeld met with Boris Tarasiuk of the Ukraine.

"We are here to discuss a partnership with, and the future of Ukraine," Fischer said before meeting Tarasiuk.

Fischer and Rotfeld were to meet briefly with President Viktor Yushchenko and Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko later in the day.

Warsaw, a major Ukraine trade partner and a strong supporter of Ukrainian integration with Europe, supports eased visa requirements for Ukrainians. The issue was at the top of the Polish delegation's discussion list, Rotfeld said.

"We have to resolve the question of free passage of the (Ukraine- Poland) border as quickly as possible," Rotfeld said. "The situation we have now is not normal."

Ukrainians wishing to travel to the EU frequently pay more than the equivalent of a month's average salary to apply for a visa. Often the applications are rejected weeks later by an embassy of an EU country without a reason being given.

Rotfeld's presence in Kiev continues Warsaw's policy of intense diplomatic efforts to integrate Ukraine more tightly with Europe, and at the same time drive a wedge between Kiev and Moscow.

Rotfeld told reporters the ultimate goal of that policy, Ukrainian accession to the EU, was not a major discussion topic for the Monday visit.

"This is not an issue for today," he said. "All we can do at this point is begin to plan for the future."

Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewsky was a key figure in negotiations producing a compromise to end mass anti-government demonstrations in December. Eventually the reform politician Yushchenko was elected president.

Fischer in contrast arrived under a cloud of a major domestic scandal over alleged lax regulation of visas issued to Ukrainians, allowing a flood of unwanted immigrants, including prostitutes and illegal workers.

Fischer's arrival marked the first visit by a senior member of the German government since the Orange Revolution, which threw out Soviet-era rulers and replaced them with a pro-European government.

DPA

Subject: German news

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