GAZPROM READY TO GIVE UP ON TURKMENISTAN. The head of Gazprom, Russia's gas giant, said his company will end its cooperation with Turkmenistan on gas shipments to Ukraine, Interfax reported on 1 August. Rem Vyakhirev said that after Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov issued a decree in late June which dissolved Turkmenrosgaz, Gazprom is "ready to give up on Turkmenistan entirely." Gazprom owned 45 percent of Turkmenrosgaz. Turkmenistan soon after terminated further shipments to Ukraine, citing a $780 million unpaid bill. Vyakhirev told Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma Gazprom could supply Ukraine, saying "From here on you don't need to use Turkmen deliveries." Vyakhirev confirmed he is meeting with Niyazov on 6 August at the latter's request.

WORLD BANK SUSPENDS LOAN TO UKRAINE. The World Bank has suspended disbursements of a $317 million loan to Ukraine because the Ukrainian parliament failed to raise electric rates as it promised, RFE/RL's Washington correspondent reported on 1 August. The bank says the parliament's indefinite postponement of the higher rates "has jeopardized the financial viability of the thermal generation companies" which are getting the loan disbursements. The loan, approved in October 1996, was to be used to build up fuel stocks and spare parts, and to install metering and other modern equipment over three years to get Ukraine's electric utility industry up to standard. The bank says the power companies will continue to deteriorate. without an increase in wholesale and retail prices. The bank says it will still support power industry reforms with technical assistance, but will only reopen the loan when electric rates are adjusted.

EU WELCOMES SLOVAK CONSTITUTIONAL COURT'S DECISION. European Commission spokesperson Louisewies Van der Laan told Slovakia on 1 August in Brussels that the European Commission welcomes the ruling by the Slovak Constitutional Court on the case of former Slovak parliament deputy Frantisek Gaulieder, and will watch carefully further steps to be taken by the Slovak Parliament in the issue. The Constitutional Court ruled on 25 July that the parliament had acted unconstitutionally in stripping Gaulieder of his mandate after he quit Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar's Movement for a Democratic Slovakia.
HUNGARIAN PRESIDENT ON RELATIONS WITH NEIGHBORS. President Arpad Goencz on 2 August, at a press conference held at the RFE/RL headquarters in Prague, said Hungary will do everything in its power to help Romania and Slovakia be admitted to NATO and the European Union. He expressed support for NATO-Ukrainian cooperation, which would bolster Ukraine's independence and sovereignty. Goencz said he regards the incidents triggered by the attempt of the Romanian nationalist mayor of Cluj, Gheorghe Funar, to block the display of the Hungarian flag over the Hungarian consulate as "insignificant." He said Hungary has its own "extreme nationalists" and added that he will always remember the warmth with which both the Romanian and the Hungarian population of the town received him when he visited there earlier this year. Goencz said Hungary's option for integration into Western structures is unlikely to change regardless of the outcome of the May 1998 elections.