UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT VOWS NO CHANGE IN FOREIGN POLICY UNDER NEW MINISTER. Leonid Kuchma promised on 2 October that Ukraine's foreign policy will not change following Foreign Minister Borys Tarasyuk's dismissal and replacement by Anatoliy Zlenko (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 2 October 2000), Interfax reported. "Nobody should have any doubts about that," Kuchma noted, introducing Zlenko at the Foreign Ministry. Kuchma said Ukraine's course toward European integration will also remain unchanged. He stressed the need to find "an efficient algorithm" of relations with Russia, adding that those relations should be based "not [on] confrontation, but [on] mutually beneficial cooperation." Zlenko said Ukraine gives top priority to relations with the EU, the U.S., and Russia. JM
UKRAINIAN SPEAKER: TARASYUK'S DISMISSAL DUE TO FAILURES IN EUROPEAN INTEGRATION. Parliamentary speaker Ivan Plyushch said on 2 October that Tarasyuk was ousted as foreign minister because of his unsatisfactory performance in integrating Ukraine with Europe and promoting Ukrainian trade there, Interfax reported. "We are lagging behind in mutually advantageous economic cooperation [with Europe] on many counts," Plyushch said. Ukrainian political analyst Mykhaylo Pohrebynskyy commented the same day that Ukraine has proved unable to live up to the high expectations that were raised in the West by Tarasyuk and other Ukrainian politicians. JM
UKRAINIAN OFFICIALS TO PAY PRICE FOR 'FLOP' AT OLYMPICS. Prime Minister Viktor Yushchenko on 2 October pledged to hold some sports officials accountable for Ukraine's "flop" at the Olympic Games in Sydney, Interfax reported. "This is a failure to some extent.... We did not expect such a poor performance," Yushchenko commented. Ukraine's 239 sportsmen in Sydney won three gold, 10 silver, and 10 bronze medals, as a result of which Ukraine finished in 21st place. Kyiv had expected the Ukrainian team to finish among the top 10, as it did in Atlanta four years ago, when Ukraine won nine gold, two silver, and 12 bronze medals. JM
U.S. DENIES EXISTENCE OF 'SECRET PLAN' FOR TRANSDNIESTER SETTLEMENT. The U.S. Embassy in Chisinau on 2 October denied the existence of a "secret plan" for the settlement of the Transdniester conflict, Infotag reported. On 23 September, the Russian daily "Izvestiya" reported that a U.S. plan envisages incorporating Bessarabia into Romania and the Transdniester into Ukraine. The embassy said that the U.S, government's efforts to solve the Transdniester problem "are channeled primarily through the OSCE, although the U.S. is also consulting with the governments of the Russian Federation and Ukraine, in their capacity as mediators in the conflict." It said there "is no secret U.S. government 'plan' to solve the conflict in terms other than the above," Infotag reported, citing the embassy's press release. MS
RADIO FREE EUROPE/RADIO LIBERTY, PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC
A Survey of Developments in Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine by the Regional Specialists of RFE/RL's Newsline Team
CATHOLIC CIRCLES STEP UP PRESSURE ON KWASNIEWSKI. Metropolitan Archbishop of Bialystok Stanislaw Szymecki believes that a Roman Catholic "may not with a clear conscience vote for a candidate who is a supporter of abortion and demoralization," PAP reported on 28 September. Archbishop Szymecki issued a statement saying that he responded "with enormous distaste" to President Aleksander Kwasniewski's insult to Pope John Paul II. In a video shown in the presidential election campaign earlier this month, presidential aide Marek Siwiec mocked the pope by making a sign of the cross and then kissing the ground, to which President Aleksander Kwasniewski responded with amusement and encouragement (see "RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine," 26 September 2000).
"Many people are outraged and are demanding the departure of not just the minister [who carried out the papal parody] but of the president himself," the archbishop said. He noted that the president, while stressing his contribution to improving relations between Vatican and Poland, "avoids other issues that horrify us: this is the onward rush of the president to support abortion, narcotics, and pornography."
It also has not passed unnoticed in Poland that Poland's Roman Catholic Church head, Cardinal Jozef Glemp, left the hall of the Jagiellonian University in Krakow last week when Kwasniewski was delivering a speech during the celebration of the university's 600th anniversary. The cardinal later denied that his early departure was intended as a snub to the president, but PAP reported that the audience present in the hall viewed it as an oblique sign of protest against Kwasniewski.
Last week, Krakow's City Council issued a statement proclaiming Kwasniewski persona non grata in the city. Krakow Mayor Andrzej Golas boycotted the celebration of the Jagiellonian University's 600th anniversary because of Kwasniewski's participation.
In addition, Catholic Action--Poland's biggest lay organization of Roman Catholics--issued an appeal that was read out in churches on 1 October. While not mentioning Kwasniewski by name, the appeal left no doubt that it was targeting the president, who has publicly admitted that he is a non-believer. Catholic Action noted in particular: "A declared atheist does not deserve the support of believers...because he does not take into account man's spiritual needs and will back legislation irreconcilable with Christian values.... By voting for someone representing values contrary to Christianity, a believer would come into conflict with his own conscience and religious identity."
KUCHMA DISMISSES TARASYUK. President Leonid Kuchma on 29 September relieved Foreign Minister Borys Tarasyuk of his duties "in connection with his transfer to another position," Interfax reported. The agency quoted Kuchma as saying the following day that he will appoint Anatoliy Zlenko as new foreign minister. Zlenko, who is 62, was the first foreign minister of independent Ukraine. He was replaced in 1994 after Kuchma was elected president. Kuchma praised Tarasyuk's performance but noted that the situation in Ukraine has changed and the country needs a new foreign minister, "a calm person, a diplomat to the roots." Zlenko has been Ukraine's ambassador to France since 1997.
Socialist Party leader Oleksandr Moroz told Interfax that Tarasyuk was dismissed because of his "relatively" high degree of independence and authority. According to Moroz, such people cannot remain long in power and should be replaced by "manageable" ones who are unable to aspire to "an independent role in the political establishment." Ukrainian Popular Rukh leader Yuriy Kostenko said Tarasyuk was ousted under pressure from Russia. Kostenko noted that Tarasyuk seeks Ukraine's integration in "the European and Euroatlantic structures" and added that Russia perceived that policy as "extremely disadvantageous" to itself.
Mykhaylo Pohrebynskyy, director of the Center of Political Research, said Ukraine's foreign policy is unlikely to change under a new foreign minister. "Ukraine has no choice, the policy will be pro-Western no matter who is minister. The only thing a new minister could change is establishing closer economic ties with Russia, but not political ties," AP quoted Pohrebynskyy as saying. Interfax quoted unidentified Ukrainian experts and analysts as saying that Kyiv is hardly likely to change its foreign policy in a radical way. They noted at the same time that Ukraine's relations with Russian may improve under the new minister because "they cannot be worse [than they are now]." According to Yuriy Kostenko, however, Ukraine's "multidirectional" foreign policy is likely to become "proRussian" under Tarasyuk's successor.
Tarasyuk, 51, had served as Ukraine's envoy to NATO before he took over as foreign minister in April 1998. He was widely seen as one of Kyiv's pro-Western politicians. But his dismissal came just hours after he had summoned diplomats from the Canadian and the U.S. embassies as well as a representative of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in Kyiv to protest their interference in Ukraine's domestic affairs. Tarasyuk's protest was triggered by a letter from the Canadian and U.S. ambassadors as well as the Kyiv-based representatives of the EBRD and the World Bank to President Leonid Kuchma. That letter, which was published in the Kyiv-based newspaper "Fakty" on 28 September, said Kyiv's recent decisions--in particular, the 2001 budget draft submitted by the government to the parliament--suggest that the government is moving away from the reform program it has pledged to implement. An unidentified source "close to Kuchma's administration" told Reuters that the dismissal had nothing to do with the letter and Tarasyuk's diplomatic protest.
"RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report" is prepared by Jan Maksymiuk on the basis of a variety of sources including reporting by "RFE/RL Newsline" and RFE/RL's broadcast services. It is distributed every Tuesday.