Ukraine's Viktor Yushchenko and Georgia's Mikhail Saakashvili said in a statement that the Commonwealth of Democratic Choice will become "a powerful tool for freeing our region from the remaining divisive lines, violations of human rights, any spirit of confrontation and frozen conflicts."
"That will help usher in a new era of democracy, security, stability and peace across Europe, from the Atlantic to the Caspian Sea," the leaders said in a statement that followed their talks in Borjomi, a renowned Georgian spa.
They said the new alliance would be inaugurated at a summit in Ukraine this fall and invited the United States, the European Union and Russia to attend
it as observers. They said that the new grouping would unite democracies of the Baltic, Black Sea and Caspian regions, but wouldn't elaborate which
specific nations could join.
The name of the new alliance is similar to the Russian-led Commonwealth of Independent States - a loose alliance of 12 ex-Soviet nations - that includes both Georgia and Ukraine.
The plan for a new alliance is likely to irritate the Kremlin, which has viewed massive uprisings that recently toppled unpopular regimes in Georgia, Ukraine and another ex-Soviet nation, Kyrgyzstan, as part of a Western-guided effort to isolate and sideline Russia.
Asked whether the planned new grouping would strain their nations' ties with Moscow, Yushchenko responded in a conciliatory manner, saying that he
wants to develop friendly ties with Russia.
Saakashvili made a veiled hint at Russia's imperial ambitions when he said that a residence where he and Yushchenko met Friday had hosted members
of the Russian imperial family, Soviet dictator Josef Stalin and other leaders of the Soviet empire.
"Even in their nightmares they couldn't have imagined that presidents of independent Ukraine and Georgia would sign declarations here," Saakashvili said.
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