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CIS OFFICIAL VISITS UZBEKISTAN. CIS Executive Committee Chairman Yurii Yarov met in Tashkent on 15 January with Uzbek Prime Minister Utkir Sultanov and Foreign Minister Abdulaziz Komilov to discuss developing economic, trade, cultural, and educational cooperation among CIS member states, ITAR-TASS and uza.uz reported. Uzbekistan's President Islam Karimov will not attend the upcoming informal CIS summit in Ukraine as he will be paying an official visit to Spain. LF
UKRAINE WANTS TO DELAY TOUGHER BORDER REGIME WITH RUSSIA. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Anatoliy Zlenko told his Russian counterpart Igor Ivanov in a telephone conversation on 15 January that Ukraine wants to postpone the introduction of new requirements for crossing the countries' mutual border, UNIAN reported. The planned changes include requiring Ukrainians and Russians to present foreign-travel passports when crossing the border. The Russian side had proposed that such a regulation be introduced on 1 July. Quoting the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry's press service, the news agency reported that Zlenko said this new requirement would complicate "interpersonal and cultural-educational" ties between the countries due to the "realities of socioeconomic development." Obtaining foreign-travel documents in Russia and Ukraine sometimes runs into technical difficulties, since they are issued by special centralized offices rather than local police departments, as in the case of domestic passports. A great many citizens in both countries do not possess foreign-travel passports. JM
TWO NEW LAWMAKERS TO JOIN UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT. The Verkhovna Rada has terminated the parliamentary powers of Serhiy Tyhypko (Labor Ukraine-Party of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs) and Mykhaylo Papiyev (Social Democratic Party-united) in connection with their appointment to government posts, UNIAN reported on 16 January. Tyhypko was appointed head of the Ukrainian National Bank in a controversial vote in December, while Papiyev assumed the post of labor minister. In conformity with Ukrainian law, they will be replaced in the Verkhovna Rada by Yuliya Chebotarova (Labor Ukraine-Party of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs) and Ihor Shurma (Social Democratic Party-united), who topped the lists of candidates from the respective parties failing to obtain parliamentary mandates in the 31 March election. JM
UKRAINIAN AGRICULTURAL GROWTH SLOWS. Deputy Prime Minister for Agriculture Ivan Kyrylenko told the Verkhovna Rada on 15 January that Ukrainian economic growth in the agricultural sector in 2002 did not exceed 3 percent, UNIAN reported. In 2000 and 2001, Ukraine reported increases of 9.2 percent and 9.8 percent, respectively, in agricultural output. Kyrylenko also said more than 40 percent of Ukrainian farms posted losses in 2002. "The average monthly wage in the agricultural sector -- 153 hryvnyas ($29) -- is the lowest among economic branches," Kyrylenko added. JM
LITHUANIAN PRESIDENT-ELECT CHANGES TACK ON FOREIGN POLICY. Rolandas Paksas told an assembly of foreign diplomats and representatives of international organizations in Vilnius on 15 January that he plans to make changes in the country's foreign policy, BNS reported. One of the Liberal Democratic leader and former prime minister's first moves after his electoral victory on 5 January was to "send off a signal to the world that foreign policy will not change" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 January 2003). Paksas underlined that the current priorities of integration into NATO and the EU, along with good relations with neighboring countries, will remain unchanged. But he added that there will be modifications. "Special emphasis will be put on developing regional cooperation with some regions in Russia, especially the northwestern part and other remote regions," Paksas said. He predicted greater cooperation with Ukraine, where in addition to bilateral economic cooperation he will encourage "establishing contacts between NGOs and governmental organizations, including the parliaments, [and] governmental and presidential institutions." Paksas asserted, "Lithuania is ready to help Belarus in seeking closer contacts with the EU, but the Belarusian government has to follow the recommendations of international institutions, thus ensuring implementation of democratic and legal processes in the country." He also said he will seek new markets for Lithuanian products and investment opportunities in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. SG