UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT AGREES TO SEND PEACEKEEPERS TO KOSOVA... The Supreme Council on 1 July passed a resolution on Ukraine's participation in the peacekeeping operation in Yugoslavia, ITAR-TASS reported. According to the resolution, the government is obliged to submit a proposal on the issue to the president, following consultations with the UN, the Yugoslav government, and participants in the peacekeeping operation. That proposal is to include information about the responsibilities of the Ukrainian contingent, its numerical strength, and its weaponry. The resolution says Ukrainian peacekeepers cannot be under NATO command. It also stipulates that the cost of their operation is to be met "by those who unleashed the criminal war in Yugoslavia and did colossal damage to this country and its people." JM

...URGES KUCHMA TO OUST INTERIOR MINISTER, SECURITY SERVICE CHIEF... In a non-binding resolution the same day, the Supreme Council urged the president to dismiss Interior Minister Yuriy Kravchenko and Security Service chief Leonid Derkach. Lawmakers approved the resolution by a vote of 250 to 19 after a parliamentary commission had accused the two officials of assisting President Leonid Kuchma in his reelection campaign. "Factory and institution chiefs, often facing the threat of dismissal, have forced their subordinates to collect signatures or sign in support of the current head of state," AP quoted commission head Oleksandr Yelyashkevych as saying. JM

...FAILS TO OVERRIDE KUCHMA'S VETO ON MINIMUM PENSION RISE. The parliament on 1 July failed to override Kuchma's veto of the bill increasing the minimum pension from 16.6 hryvni ($4.2) to 55 hryvni, which was passed in May. Kuchma argued that the Pension Fund can muster only half of the some 26 billion hryvni needed annually to finance the increase. JM

KUCHMA QUESTIONS EU STRATEGY FOR UKRAINE. At the Central and Eastern Europe Economic Forum in Salzburg on 1 July, Leonid Kuchma criticized the EU for failing to adequately support reform in Ukraine, the "Eastern Economic Daily" reported. Asked about Western assistance to Ukraine, Kuchma replied: "In fact there is none.... Could you explain the strategy of the EU toward Ukraine? When we ask such a question, we don't understand the answer." Kuchma also complained that the EU advises him to emulate Poland's reform effort without providing "massive debt relief" to Ukraine, as it did to Poland. JM

AZERBAIJAN, UKRAINE SIGN AGREEMENTS. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Borys Tarasyuk held talks in Baku on 30 June with his Azerbaijani counterpart Tofik Zulfugarov, focusing on more intensive cooperation between NATO and the GUUAM member states (Georgia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, and Moldova), Ukrainian arms sales to Azerbaijan, and the possible export of Azerbaijan's Caspian oil via Ukraine, Turan and Interfax reported. The following day, the two ministers signed cooperation agreements on motor transportation, sea trade, and tourism. On 1 July, Tarasyuk met with parliamentary speaker Murtuz Alesqerov and with President Heidar Aliev. Describing Ukraine as one of Azerbaijan's most important partners, Aliev expressed support for Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma's bid for re-election this fall. Aliev also acknowledged, but declined to divulge the content of, a new Ukrainian proposal for resolving the deadlocked Karabakh conflict, according to Interfax. LF