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Focus on Ukraine, November 24-30, 2008

December 1, 2008

Overview of political events of the week


November 24

Premier Yulia Tymoshenko made a rather discomforting forecast at an emergency meeting of the government that Ukraine will sustain economic and financial losses next year.
The premier stressed that all expenditures must be cut and the available funds should be spent more thriftily. Tymoshenko believes it will take two years for Ukraine and other countries around the world to recover from the blows being dealt by the current global financial crisis.
Meanwhile, the government plans to review the principles of forming the national budget for next year. At this point in time, the government should not count on proceeds from the sale of state property as it cannot sell anything until a privatization program is rubberstamped.

Russia threatened to sue Ukraine for gas debts. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev instructed Russia’s Gazprom to recover Ukraine’s debt of US $2.4 billion.
Premier Yulia Tymoshenko described the current situation as a misunderstanding. A delegation of the Ukrainian government flew to Moscow to hold talks on this matter. In the mean time, the Presidential Secretariat is fully counting on the premier to assume responsibility on the gas issue.

November 25

The U.S. launched a diplomatic campaign in Europe, calling on NATO member countries to offer Ukraine and Georgia membership in the Alliance without going through the protracted procedures of being granted the Membership Action Plan (MAP) and meeting a number of requirements.
Yesterday U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice informed her German counterpart F. W. Steinmeier of the U.S. initiative. As the New York Times informed, Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Fried said in Washington that the ministers of foreign affairs of NATO member countries can discuss the issue of NATO membership of Ukraine and Georgia via instruments other than MAP.

U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine William Taylor told Voice of America that the U.S. considers granting Ukraine the MAP is currently not relevant.
Taylor said Washington is clearly not about to persuade its partners in the Alliance to grant Kyiv the MAP in December. In other words, the U.S. feels that Ukraine is ready for NATO membership without joining the plan of action.
The diplomat further noted that in the event that official Kyiv agrees, it can skip over this stage and immediately raised the issue of membership in the organization upon meeting the set criteria.
Taylor assured that the U.S. supports such a scenario should the Ukrainian leadership choose to take this path.

November 26

From now on NATO military forces and personnel can move freely across the territory of Ukraine. President Viktor Yushchenko authorized Minister of Defense Yuriy Yekhanurov to sign an agreement between Ukraine and NATO on the transit of military servicemen of the Alliance through the territory of Ukraine.


At a meeting at the NATO Headquarters in Brussels, delegates of France, Germany, Norway, Spain, Italy and four other countries expressed their objection to the U.S. accepting Ukraine into NATO without the MAP.
As Deutsche Welle informed, Germany’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Franck-Walter Steinmeier feels “there are no grounds” for transcending the limits of the decision made at the NATO Summit in Bucharest.

The management of Naftogaz Ukrainy and Gazprom agreed that talks on Ukraine repaying its debt for Russian gas will begin in 5 days. Ukraine is obligated to pay US $1.26 billion by December 1 for gas consumed in September and October.
The remaining debts will be paid off at a later date according to the agreement made. The head of Naftogaz Oleh Dubina blames the financial crisis for the debt, saying that enterprises have cut back consumption of gas, which means their expenses to the state are less than Kyiv had counted on.

Premier Tymoshenko once again urged the president to revive the democratic coalition. The premier stressed that the Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc is prepared to agree to any conditions put forth by its former ally and set a deadline for making a decision on this issue by the end of next week. In the event the “orange camp” refuses, the YTB will come to agreements with other political forces.

November 27

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice stated at press conference in Washington that the U.S. will not insist on urgent granting of the Membership Action Plan to Ukraine at the next NATO summit scheduled for the middle of December in Brussels.
She said the bilateral NATO-Georgia and NATO-Ukraine commissions are at this stage fully capable of fostering harmonization of the two countries with the Alliance. This is precisely why there is no need to discuss the issue of granting Kyiv and Tbilisi the status of MAP participants in the process of joining NATO.

November 28

Director of the Institute of Societal Transformations Oleh Soskin announced that according to the results of a public opinion poll conducted by the Hromadska Dumka Foundation, thirty percent of Ukrainians would vote in favor of Ukraine joining NATO if a referendum on this issue was held this coming weekend.
Nearly 70% of the population in Western Ukraine would vote in favour of NATO accession. In the central parts of the country – 28%, in the eastern and southern regions – nearly 20%.
Soskin says the main thing is that “a stable plateau of 30% NATO supporters in Ukraine is formed. This is a very favorable position for being granted the MAP given that Croatia, Slovenia, Slovakia and Albania held such positions when they joined the MAP”.
Oleh Soskin affirms that such a figure is positive for Ukraine given that a year ago the number of NATO supporters in the country was half that amount.

November 29

The Our Ukraine People’s Union held its 6th closed congress to which not a single representative of the mass media was not admitted. Honorary leader of OUPU President Viktor Yushchenko participated in the congress.
After the congress ended it was announced that President Yushchenko was unanimously voted in as the heads of the OUPU party. The former leader of the party Vyacheslav Kyrylenko gave up his plenary powers. Party members presume that Kyrylenko will take up the position of first deputy chair of the party and will fulfil technical duties, while Yushchenko will be the symbol of the party and number one on its list during parliamentary elections.

The official site of the Our Ukraine party informed that OUPU faction leader Vyacheslav Kyrylenko announced at the party’s congress that forming a coalition with other political forces is not possible.
Kyrylenko said the reason for such a decision by OUPU is a difference in views from those of the Party of Regions and the absence of trust in partners in the event of a possible coalition with the YTB.
As a reminder, at the last minute on Wednesday Premier Yulia Tymoshenko urged the partners of the democratic coalition to unite and approved the decision about this at the congress on Saturday. Otherwise, the YTB will seek new allies in the parliament.
 



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