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UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT VOWS TO REVISE DRAFT CONSTITUTIONAL REFORMS. In an address to the nation on Ukrainian Television on 19 June, President Leonid Kuchma pledged to submit an amended version of his constitutional-reform bill to the Verkhovna Rada the next day (see "RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report," 11 March 2003). Kuchma announced that he will withdraw his earlier proposals to introduce a bicameral legislature, reduce the number of deputies, and apply the results of national referendums directly, without seeking approval from any other branch of government. "[These proposals] were the most controversial between the president and his opponents," Kuchma said. "But we do not have the right to involve ourselves in a tug-of-war, so I removed these barriers." He also said he will retain his proposal that the president, parliamentarians, and local deputies be elected for five-year terms in elections held in the same year. JM

UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT RE-ELECTS OMBUDSWOMAN... The Verkhovna Rada on 19 June voted 280 to 10 to re-elect Nina Karpachova as the country's ombudswoman, Interfax reported. Karpachova failed to secure the required majority of 231 votes in a May vote (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 May 2003). The same day, the parliament also passed a bill that allows civilians to head the Defense Ministry and assume leading posts in Ukraine's armed forces, and introduces the post of ombudsman for servicemen. JM

TURKISH PRESIDENT VISITS UKRAINE. Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer met with his Ukrainian counterpart Leonid Kuchma and Premier Viktor Yanukovych in Kyiv on 19 June, Ukrainian news agencies reported. The two sides signed four cooperation accords. Trade turnover between the two countries amounted to $1.4 billion in 2002. JM

ROMANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER SAYS SERPENT ISLAND BELONGS TO UKRAINE. Foreign Minister Mircea Geoana said that the Black Sea's contentious Serpent Island belongs to Ukraine, the daily "Ziua" reported on 20 June, citing an interview Geoana recently gave to Amos News. Geoana said that "regardless of historic injustice, the 1946 Paris Peace treaty incorporated the island into the Soviet Union contrary to any norm of international justice, while political reality after 1990 confirmed this fact." He said the dispute with Ukraine is not over which country the island belongs to, but on the delimitation of the Black Sea's continental shelf. Romania regards the island as uninhabited, while Ukraine claims it has "an economic life of its own," Genoa said. Should Ukraine stick to its claim, he added, Romania might take the case to the International Court of Justice in The Hague, as stipulated in the basic treaty between the two countries in the event they fail to reach agreement on the issue. According to international law, if the court rules that the island is uninhabited, Ukraine cannot lay claim to unilateral economic exploitation of oil reserves within 200 miles from the island. MS

ROMANIAN CENSUS SHOWS SHARP DROP IN POPULATION. Official results of the census conducted in March 2002 show that Romania's population has dropped by more than 1 million people over the last decade, Mediafax reported. On 18 March 2002, the country's total population was 21,680,974, which represents a return to figures recorded in 1977, according to National Statistics Institute Chairman Aurel Camara. Camara said the decline is primarily due to a fall in the birth rate and a rise in emigration, which resulted in a yearly negative average growth of minus 0.5 percent over the last decade. He also said that during the same time period the rural population grew significantly, but did not result in a rise in the number of people employed in the agriculture sector. Rather, Camara said, the growth is due to migration to satellite settlements in the vicinity of large urban areas. Whereas in 1992 there were 1,034 women per 1,000 men, in 2002 there were 1,051 women to every 1,000 men. The average age of women is 38.6, whereas that of men is 36.9, Camara said. Nearly 90 percent (89.5) declared their ethnicity as Romanian, 6.6 said they are ethnic Hungarians, 2.5 percent said they are Romany, and 0.3 percent each German or Ukrainian. However, 91 percent named Romanian as their native language and 6.7 percent said Hungarian is their first language. MS