AZERBAIJAN, UKRAINE DISCUSS OIL EXPORTS. Visiting Baku to congratulate President Heidar Aliev on his 75th birthday, Ukrainian Prime Minister Valeriy Pustovoytenko met with both Aliev and his Azerbaijani counterpart, Artur Rasi-Zade, to discuss the transport of Azerbaijani oil by tanker from the Black Sea port of Supsa to Odessa. Some oil would be refined in Odessa for domestic use and the rest exported via the Odessa-Brody pipeline. In Washington, Ukrainian Ambassador Yuri Shcherbak discussed with U.S. trade and energy officials the Ukrainian option for exporting Azerbaijani oil, according to Interfax. The Turkish government may commission a private company to build the proposed BakuCeyhan oil export pipeline if the Azerbaijani International Operating Company that is exploiting three offshore Azerbaijani oil fields declines to make a firm commitment on that project, the "Turkish Daily News" reported on 9 May. Royal Dutch Shell has expressed interest to the Turkish government in building that pipeline. LF

UKRAINE STILL CLAIMS PART OF EX-USSR PROPERTY IN RUSSIA. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Borys Tarasyuk told journalists on 7 May that Ukraine's claim to part of the former Ukrainian SSR's property abroad "has not been taken off the agenda" in negotiations with Russia, Interfax reported. The parliament has postponed ratifying the 1994 agreement on sharing the former USSR's assets and liabilities between Ukraine and Russia. Tarasyuk also expressed amazement over Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's remarks on Ukraine's debt to Belarus. Lukashenka had said earlier last week that Belarus will not ratify a border treaty with Ukraine until Kyiv pays $215 million in debts. JM

EBRD TO SUPPORT UKRAINIAN BUSINESS. Ukrainian National Bank Chairman Viktor Yushchenko and European Bank for Reconstruction and Development President Charles Frank, meeting in Kyiv on 8 May, signed an agreement on a credit line worth 80 million ecus to support small and medium-sized business in Ukraine, the Ukrainian News agency reported. AFP quoted an EBRD official as saying on 10 May that the EBRD will give its final answer to financing the construction of two nuclear reactors in Ukraine "in a few months." Ukraine is seeking international funds for nuclear plants in Rivne and Khmelnytskyy to compensate for the planned closure of the Chornobyl plant. JM

UKRAINIAN PREMIER APPEALS TO IMF FOR MILDER STANCE. Valeriy Pustovoytenko has complained about the tough stance of the IMF, which is demanding economic austerity measures in exchange for more loans, ITAR-TASS reported on 10 May. The fund wants Ukraine to abolish its system of social benefits and increase the price of electricity, gas, and municipal services. According to Pustovoytenko, this would trigger a "social explosion" in Ukraine. Meanwhile, at a meeting with EBRD President Charles Frank the same day, Pustovoytenko pledged that his government will continue economic reforms. JM

BEREZOVSKII SAYS HIS VIEW OF CIS GOALS COINCIDES WITH LUKASHENKA'S. Following his meeting with Belarusian President Lukashenka in Minsk on 8 May, CIS Executive Secretary Boris Berezovskii said their views of the CIS's strategic goals coincide, ITAR-TASS reported. Summing up his recent meetings with the presidents of Ukraine, Moldova (see below), and Belarus, Berezovskii said he had noted "concern about the fact that there are few specific actions." He added that those countries also share the "unconditional will and desire to develop relations within the commonwealth." JM