ROMANIAN DEFENSE MINISTER VISITS GEORGIA. Victor Babiuc met with President Shevardnadze in Tbilisi on 25 May, Caucasus Press reported. The two discussed ways of expanding ties between the countries' Defense Ministries, the situation in the Balkans, and the need to strengthen ties between GUUAM (Georgia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Moldova) and NATO. According to unconfirmed reports, Romania, along with Poland, may be interested in joining that alignment (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 May 1999). The previous day, Babiuc and his Georgian counterpart, Davit Tevzadze, had discussed cooperation prospects, including the training of Georgian officers in Romania and cooperation between the two countries' military-industrial complexes. LF

KUCHMA LAYS DOWN POLITICAL PRIORITIES FOR NEXT DECADE. Addressing a joint congress of the Confederation of Employers and the Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma said the "consolidation of the government system" and national security is Ukraine's top priority in the next stage of its development, Interfax reported. The second priority is the continuation of systemic reforms and market-oriented transformations, while the third is to achieve economic growth of 5-6 percent of GDP in the next five years and 8 percent in 2010. He also cited the "drastic" restructuring of the Ukrainian economy as a priority. The congress unanimously voted to support Kuchma in the October presidential elections. JM

ALBRIGHT SAYS UKRAINE 'VERY COOPERATIVE' OVER OIL EMBARGO ON YUGOSLAVIA. U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright on 25 May said that Ukraine has been "very cooperative" in NATO efforts to maintain a strict oil embargo against Yugoslavia. She added, however, that the U.S. will "soon" talk with Kyiv about allegations that Ukrainian barges have been shipping oil to Belgrade via the River Danube. "The New York Times" on 25 May quoted unnamed U.S. officials as saying that oil is loaded onto Ukrainian barges in Ukrainian ports and then shipped across the Black Sea to the Danube. JM