ARMENIAN FOREIGN MINISTER CITES SUCCESSES IN 1999... Vartan Oskanian told journalists in Yerevan on 13 January that the main focus of Armenia's foreign policy in 1999 were regional issues and Armenia's relations with neighboring states, Armenpress reported. He said bilateral relations with Iran and Georgia are developing successfully but no progress has been registered in relations with Turkey, despite U.S. efforts to bring about a rapprochement, according to AP. Ankara continues to make the establishment of formal diplomatic relations contingent on a solution to the Karabakh conflict and the withdrawal of Armenian forces from occupied Azerbaijani territory. Oskanian characterized Armenia's partnership with Russia as "strategic" but added that Yerevan is simultaneously seeking to develop its relations with the West and with the GUUAM grouping (comprising Georgia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, and Moldova). LF

UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT ORDERS CABINET TO REVISE 2000 BUDGET DRAFT. By a vote of 153 to 162, the parliament on 13 January returned the 2000 budget draft to the government for revision and ordered it to be returned for a "repeat" second reading in February, Interfax and the "Eastern Economist Daily" reported. A resolution not to accept a bill for consideration must be supported by one third of parliamentary deputies (150) to pass. Parliamentary speaker Oleksandr Tkachenko said the draft budget contradicts a resolution on the budget passed last year calling for an equalization of the central and regional budgets in 2000-2001. Tkachenko said the correlation between the central and regional budgets included in the bill passed in the first reading was 59 percent and 41 percent, respectively, while these figures were 75 percent and 25 percent in the draft submitted for the second reading. JM

UKRAINIAN LAWMAKERS CREATE CENTER-RIGHT MAJORITY. On 13 January, 241 deputies from 11 right-wing and centrist caucuses and groups in the 450-seat parliament announced the creation of a pro-government majority, Interfax reported. The deputies pledged to deal with the tasks of implementing socioeconomic reforms in Ukraine and establishing constructive cooperation between the parliament and the executive. At the same time, the majority requested that President Leonid Kuchma guarantee that the current Supreme Council will serve its full constitutional term, which is to end in March 2002. The new parliamentary coalition, led by former President Leonid Kravchuk, immediately began collecting signatures to oust parliamentary speaker Oleksandr Tkachenko and his deputy, Adam Martynyuk, from their posts. JM