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GEORGIAN PRESIDENTIAL HOPEFUL VISITS UKRAINE. Mikhail Saakashvili, leader of Georgia's National Movement and a candidate in the 4 January presidential election in Georgia, signed a cooperation accord between his organization and Viktor Yushchenko's Our Ukraine in Kyiv on 13 December, Interfax reported. Saakashvili, who was on a private visit, pledged that if he is elected president, Ukraine will be a priority in Georgia's foreign policy. "I cannot come up with a prescription [presumably to oust President Leonid Kuchma]," Reuters quoted Saakashvili as saying in Kyiv. "There are a few of our frightened friends who think we will export something. I do not have a model for this," he added. JM
UKRAINIAN COMMUNIST LEADER PESSIMISTIC OVER FIELDING SINGLE OPPOSITION CANDIDATE FOR PRESIDENT. Communist Party leader Petro Symonenko was quoted in the 13 December issue of "Kievskie vedomosti" as saying it is "absolutely unrealistic" to name a single candidate from the opposition in the 2004 presidential election," Interfax reported. Symonenko opined, however, that the opposition four -- the Communist Party, the Socialist Party, the Yuliya Tymoshenko Block, and Our Ukraine -- could nevertheless cooperate in "two directions" in the upcoming election campaign. "The first is to ensure together the transparency of elections and control at polling stations. The second is to try not to allow the authorities' candidate to qualify for the runoff," he said. Symonenko added that the Communist Party will select its candidate for the presidential race at a congress scheduled tentatively for May. JM
MOLDOVAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES IN FIRST READING CONTROVERSIAL 'NATIONALITIES POLICY.' The communist majority in the Moldovan parliament approved on 12 December in first reading the draft Concept of the State's Nationalities Policy that President Vladimir Voronin submitted to the legislature, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. The document designates as a "national priority" the promotion of Russian as a language of inter-ethnic communication in Moldova, alongside "Moldovan," which continues to be the state's "official" language. The draft also states that the "state-forming" nationality in the country are the Moldovans, but adds that the crystallization of statehood was also made possible by the contribution of other nationalities living in the country and lists among those the Ukrainian, Russian, Gagauz, Bulgarian, Jewish, Romanian, Belarusian, Romany and Polish minorities. The draft also calls for "the judicial and political neutralization of attempts to deny the existence of a Moldovan nationality and of ignoring the concept of Moldovan language." On the same day, Popular Party Christian Democratic (PPCD) Deputy Chairman Stefan Secareanu called on Moldovan citizens to protest the draft, describing it as "a new attempt to de-nationalize the Romanians," Infotag reported. He said that although Romanians make up two-thirds of the country's population, the presidential "concept" puts them on the same footing with Jews or Belarusians. MS