Yalta hosts GUUAM summit

The leaders of Georgia, Azerbaijan and Moldova gathered for their plenary session in Yalta today. (Yalta is a Ukrainian resort on the Black Sea coast -- Ed.) President Islam Karimov of Uzbekistan, who was also expected to arrive in Yalta, refused to do so. Uzbekistan is therefore represented by its Ambassador in Kiev, who is not allowed to sign any documents on behalf of Uzbekistan. Georgia, Azerbaijan, Moldova and Uzbekistan make up the GUUAM association.

Nonetheless, the Uzbek Ambassador's presence attests to the fact that Uzbekistan is taking an official part in the Yalta summit, President Leonid Kuchma of Ukraine stressed during the opening ceremony.

Summit participants intend to sign a declaration, which stipulates joint efforts for the sake of ensuring regional stability and security, as well as a statute dealing with the GUUAM Council of Foreign Ministers. Moreover, it's intended to adopt a decision as regards the status of observers at the GUUAM association.

For their own part, GUUAM Foreign Ministers are to sign agreements on establishing a free-trade zone within the association's framework and on jointly fighting terrorism and organized crime.

Victor Chernomyrdin, who serves as Russia's Ambassador to Ukraine, was invited to Yalta as a guest.