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UKRAINIAN SOCIALISTS TO BACK TYMOSHENKO IN EXCHANGE FOR EXECUTIVE-BRANCH POSITIONS. Socialist Party (SPU) leader Oleksandr Moroz told journalists on 31 January that his party will vote in the Verkhovna Rada for Yuliya Tymoshenko as Ukraine's new prime minister if President Viktor Yushchenko and Tymoshenko guarantee that SPU representatives or nominees obtain one-sixth of the positions in the executive branch, Interfax reported. According to Moroz, such a quota of government posts for the SPU was promised in an accord he signed with presidential candidate Yushchenko in November, when the SPU pledged to support Yushchenko's presidential bid (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 November 2004). Moroz added that the accord did not specify the number of ministerial portfolios for the SPU. The Verkhovna Rada is scheduled to vote on Tymoshenko's approval as prime minister on 3 February. Yushchenko's Our Ukraine bloc, Moroz's SPU, and the Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc control 140 votes in the 450-seat legislature. Tymoshenko needs at least 226 votes to be approved as the head of a new cabinet. Parliamentary speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn predicted on 31 January that the parliament will confirm Tymoshenko as prime minister with a safety margin of 25 votes. JM
UKRAINE LUKEWARM ON EU'S ENHANCED-COOPERATION PLAN. Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesman Markiyan Lubkivskyy told journalists on 1 February that Kyiv's preliminary assessment of the recently upgraded EU-Ukraine Action Plan (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 25 January 2005), which was approved by the EU foreign ministers in Brussels on 31 January, is "far from being euphoric," UNIAN reported. The upgraded plan offers Ukraine closer cooperation on trade, immigration, and security. Under the plan the EU will also support Ukraine as it seeks membership in the World Trade Organization and make it easier for Kyiv to obtain loans from the European Investment Bank. The plan does not, however, mention any prospect of EU membership for Ukraine. JM
ROMANIAN PRESIDENT IN LONDON. Romanian President Traian Basescu met with British Prime Minister Tony Blair in London on 31 January to discuss various avenues of cooperation between their two countries, Mediafax reported. Among the topics were bilateral economic cooperation, Romania's efforts to join the EU, combating corruption in Romania, and Romania's participation under British command in peacekeeping operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, Mediafax reported. A joint statement issued at the end of the meeting said the two politicians "stressed the importance of improving the business climate in Romania, especially through a far-reaching and impartial campaign to combat corruption at all levels," AFP reported. Blair pledged support for Romania's ambitions to join the EU, and an agreement was reached under which London will send two experts to Bucharest to facilitate the country's EU integration and anticorruption efforts. The joint statement drew "attention to the strategic importance of Romania's status as the eastern border of NATO and the EU" and said that Basescu and Blair "agreed to work closely together to include the issue of the Greater Black Sea region on the Euro-Atlantic agenda." They also said they are ready to work with Moldova and Ukraine to facilitate future integration with the EU. Basescu also met with European Bank for Reconstruction and Development President Jean Lemierre. MS