According to former Prime Minister and former Security Service chief Yevhen Marchuk, the appointment of Boris Tarasiuk as foreign minister of Ukraine (see Monitor, April 20) forms part of an astute strategy of President Leonid Kuchma geared to next year’s presidential elections. As Marchuk pointed out yesterday, Tarasiuk “is well known as an active supporter of integration with Europe and of a closer cooperation with NATO, up to joining the alliance. This will create a certain degree of tension in Ukraine’s relations with Russia.” At the same time, however, “it is crucial for Kuchma to retain the Russian leadership’s goodwill during the 1999 electoral campaign, even as Tarasiuk’s pro-NATO orientation seriously irritates Russia.” Marchuk therefore predicts that Kuchma will cultivate relations with Moscow while authorizing Tarasiuk to pursue the European orientation in Ukraine’s foreign policy. (Ukrainian agencies, April 20)
The indecisive result of the recent parliamentary elections would probably have been worse for the presidential camp, had Kuchma not obtained several public endorsements from the Kremlin. Those endorsements almost certainly limited the gains that pro-Russian parties stood to score in eastern and southern Ukraine. Marchuk is a declared candidate in the 1999 presidential election. Nevertheless, he and the party with which he is affiliated–the left-of-center United Social Democrats–currently entertain approaches from the presidential camp regarding a possible centrist coalition in Parliament.
REFORMERS REJUVENATE POST-ELECTION GOVERNMENT IN ARMENIA.