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RUSSIAN GENERAL WARNS EX-SOVIET REPUBLICS. The head of Russia's General Staff said that former Soviet republics have the right to join NATO, but warned them against destabilizing border areas, Interfax reported on May 15 citing a published newspaper interview. "Our position is simple and clear: you may join [NATO] but do not create tensions on our borders," General Yury Baluyevsky said in an interview published on May 15 in the daily newspaper "Novye izvestia." "If Ukraine and Georgia want to enter NATO, it is their right. However, Russia cares about the situation on adjoining territories," Baluyevsky added. "Georgia and Ukraine are adjoining territories." BW
UKRAINIAN, POLISH PRESIDENTS CALL FOR RECONCILIATION. The presidents of Ukraine and Poland -- Viktor Yushchenko and Lech Kaczynski, respectively -- met in the Polish village of Pawlokoma on May 13 to call for the reconciliation of the Ukrainian and Polish nations over their common past, Polish and Ukrainian media reported. Yushchenko and Kaczynski were attending the unveiling of a memorial to more than 360 ethnic Ukrainian villagers who were slain in Pawlokoma by a Polish military group in 1945 (see "RFE/RL Belarus, Ukraine, and Moldova Report," May 12, 2006). "We must speak openly of our painful and difficult past.... Strong and lasting reconciliation may only be built upon a foundation of truth. We cannot change the past, but we can make sure that it does not determine the future," Kaczynski said in Pawlokoma. In turn, Yushchenko said in his speech at the Pawlokoma memorial: "I can imagine what a difficult road has been traveled by tens of thousands of people to this act of reconciliation to which we are witnesses today. But I am convinced of one thing, that only the strong are capable of forgiving.... I bow my head before you, beloved Ukrainians and Poles who stand before me and who stand on these hills. You are creating a courageous and correct policy." JM