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Focus on Ukraine, November 3-9, 2008

November 10, 2008

Overview of this week’s political events

November 3


U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine William Taylor said in an interview for the newspaper Gazeta 24 that Ukraine will have a difficult time approving the decision to become part of the NATO Membership Action Plan at a meeting of foreign ministers of NATO countries scheduled for December.  
At the same time, he pointed out that Ukraine can count on a review of its application for joining the MAP at the NATO summit scheduled for April 2009 and the meeting of the foreign ministers of NATO member countries planned to be held June.
Taylor said, however, that this can only happen on the condition that there is political stability in Ukraine and the Ukrainian government continues to express its interest in being granted the MAP. 


The Ministry of Social Policy and Labor said the level of unemployment in Ukraine could see a sharp rise due to the current financial crisis.
The ministry admits there could be a massive wave of downsizing of employees this December. Enterprises in the metallurgy and chemicals sectors will be the first to cut production mainly due to a sharp drop in sales of their products.


November 4


The Kyiv City Council adopted a decision to quadruple public transport tariffs in the nation’s capital.
The Anti-monopoly Committee of Ukraine says it filled a lawsuit against the municipal enterprise KyivPassTrans for failure to provide the committee with substantiation of such a sharp hike in tariffs.


November 5


U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine William Taylor stated that relations between Ukraine and the U.S. will become tighter under the newly elected U.S. President Barack Obama.
The ambassador said there are advisors on the new president’s team, including a former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, who have a solid understanding of Ukraine and were always its proponents.


November 6


The International Monetary Fund approved a US $16.4 million stand-by line-of-credit for Ukraine for two years.
In the fund’s communiqu? it was noted that the credit is being granted to assist the Ukrainian government in renewing financial stability in the country. The fund also announced that it is prepared to immediately transfer the first tranche of the line-of-credit in the amount of US $4.5 million. 
Premier Yulia Tymoshenko stated that the line-of-credit the IMF has approved for Ukraine will foster stabilization of the hryvnia exchange rate, while VR Speaker Arseniy Yatsenyuk voiced hope that Ukraine will use only a negligible part of this credit.
A day prior to receiving the line-of-credit Ukraine’s government officials stressed that are not planning to spend a single penny of this loan.


President Yushchenko described the granting of the IMF loan to Ukraine as a signal of the organization’s increased level of trust in the country.
He added that the IMF financial assistance will support the stability of Ukraine’s financial system and fuel the domestic economy.
The day before its announcement about the loan the IMF went public with its forecast of a sharp slowdown in the level of growth of Ukraine’s economy. The IMF believes Ukraine will suffer from the drop in demand for Ukrainian exported goods, in particular metal, and from the subsiding flow of foreign investments into the country.
According to forecasts, Ukraine’s economy could fall by 3% in 2009.


President Viktor Yushchenko said at a meeting of the ambassadors of G-7 countries and the European Union that Ukraine wants to be granted the MAP on NATO membership as early as December of this year.
Ukraine’s president said his country successfully endured two weeks of economic crisis and managed to stabilize the balance of trade and the exchange rate of its currency.
Yushchenko added that Ukraine’s intentions of integrating into the Euro-Atlantic community remain unchanged, despite that financial crisis.


November 7


At a meeting of the National Security and Defense Council, President Viktor Yushchenko urged the government to recall the draft law on amendments to the 2008 National Budget and began drafting the 2009 National Budget.
The president explained that this associated with recalculation of the main indicators of the national budget due to the current economic crisis. At the same time, the head of state expressed his satisfaction that the finance and banking sector of the economy has stabilized thanks to the ability of all branches of government to find mutual consent.
Yushchenko noted that people’s deposits in banks increased by UAH 2 billion over the past few days. This, in turn, had a positive impact on the exchange rate of the hryvnia and gives grounds to believe that people’s trust in banks is gradually regaining in strength.  


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