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GEORGIAN PRESIDENT VISITS FRANCE. Mikheil Saakashvili met in Paris on June 13 with French President-elect Nicolas Sarkozy, Georgian media reported. Saakashvili subsequently described the meeting as "fantastic," and France as "a very strong ally" of Georgia in Europe. Georgian Foreign Minister Gela Bezhuashvili similarly said "we have received full support for our foreign-policy priorities," Caucasus Press reported on June 14. The talks reportedly focused on Georgia's hopes of joining NATO and other European structures, cooperation in nuclear energy, and French assistance in the reorganization of the Georgian Interior Ministry. Saakashvili also met in Paris the same day with U.S. Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns to discuss approaches to resolving Georgia's conflicts with the breakaway unrecognized republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, according to civil.ge on June 13. He is to meet on June 14 with executives from Areva NP, one of the world's leading designers and builders of nuclear power plants, Caucasus Press reported. Proposals in the early 1980s to build a nuclear-power station in Georgia generated a heated debate, but were shelved in the wake of the 1986 Chornobyl disaster. LF
UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT SLAMS SPEAKER FOR BREACH OF AGREEMENT. President Viktor Yushchenko on June 13 criticized parliament speaker Oleksandr Moroz for his failure to fulfill the deal they made together last month with Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych to terminate the Verkhovna Rada and stage early elections in September, Ukrainian media reported. "Today, Ukraine has a chance to resolve the political crisis on the basis of political agreements. There are forces today, however, that are torpedoing this option, and those forces include the head of parliament, Oleksandr Moroz," Yushchenko said at a news conference. He reiterated that the current legislature has become illegitimate following the resignation of opposition lawmakers earlier this month, and once again stressed that early polls will definitely take place on September 30. JM
UKRAINIAN PREMIER THREATENS DISMISSALS OVER BREAD PRICE HIKES. Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych on June 13 threatened to sack cabinet officials responsible for the agricultural sector if they fail to stop bread prices in Ukraine from increasing, Interfax-Ukraine reported. "There are no reasons for the bread prices to rise," Yanukovych said at a cabinet meeting. "If you fail to bring order before next week's cabinet meeting, I will raise the issue of your dismissal," he added, addressing Deputy Prime Minister for Agricultural Issues Viktor Slauta, Agricultural Policy Minister Yuriy Melnyk, and Economy Minister Anatoliy Kinakh. Yanukovych also pledged that at a sitting of the National Security and Defense Council on June 14 he will discuss the accountability of those regional governors who "take advantage of the current political situation and destabilize the price situation in Ukraine." Interfax-Ukraine reported earlier this week that the prices of flour and bread in Dnipropetrovsk Oblast have increased by some 20 percent since the beginning of the year. JM