UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT RATIFIES FRIENDSHIP TREATY WITH ROMANIA. The Ukrainian parliament on 17 July ratified a friendship treaty with Romania, Reuters reported. The treaty, signed on 2 June by Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma and Romanian President Emil Constantinescu, confirms the existing borders between the countries and Ukraine's authority over the territories lost by Romania before World War Two. The treaty had already been ratified by the Romanian parliament. Seventeen of 34 judges in Romania's Supreme Court said on 16 July they had issued a challenge to the treaty, contending that it violated the 1991 constitution proclaiming the country as a "...unitary and indivisible state." The challenge had little hope of success as it was submitted after Constantinescu signed the treaty into law.

UKRAINE'S PARLIAMENTARY ELECTION POSTPONEMENT TO BE DISCUSSED. The Ukrainian parliament will hold a special session on 28-29 August to discuss election legislation and a presidential proposal to postpone next year's parliamentary balloting, lawmakers decided on 17 July, Ukrainian Radio reported. Kuchma suggested in June to put off the March 1998 parliamentary election for a year, saying campaign concerns will prevent lawmakers from adopting sorely needed economic reform legislation. He said recently that holding the elections next March would "break society in pieces." The postponement would be carried out by extending the parliament's term from four years to five.

INFLATION, GDP IN UKRAINE FALL. Ukrainian National Bank Chairman Viktor Yushchenko told a German-Ukrainian economic seminar in Kyiv on 17 July that inflation amounted to 17.8% in Ukraine during the past 12 months, Interfax reported. The figure is the lowest since Ukraine proclaimed independence. Since June 1996, the volume of capital markets has grown 75%, to $3 billion. Despite achievements in financial stabilization, real gross domestic product is not growing. A board member of Deutsche Bank Research, Axel Siedenberg, told the seminar real GDP could shrink 3% this year due to the slowness of structural reforms in Ukraine.