Events from December 1 to December 5, 2003
Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Konstantyn Hryshchenko took part in the session of the Council of Heads of Foreign Affairs Ministries of the OSCE Countries (Maastrich, the Netherlands, Dec. 1-2), as well as in the session of the Ukraine-NATO (Dec. 3-5) at the ministerial level. He held a number of bilateral meetings with ministers of other countries.
Ukraine's Minister of Defense Yevhen Marchuk participated in the meeting of the Ukraine-NATO commission (Brussels, December 2). Speaking at the session he said that Ukraine in the future is also intends to actively participate in the peacekeeping activities. He met with U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Ramsfeld.
Commentary. Last week the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense failed to persuade the lawmakers to vote for the dispatching of the Ukrainian peacekeepers to Liberia. Parliament twice did not manage to collect necessary 226 votes.
Ukraine declared its intention to send a humanitarian-assistance cargo to Iraq. UAH 1.224 million (about USD 225,000) were allocated for this purpose.
On December 12 new Ukraine's ambassador to the U.S. Mykhailo Reznik presented his credentials to U.S. President George Bush.
The 2004 budget was adopted by parliament late in November and was signed by Ukraine's President Leonid Kuchma (Dec. 2).
Kiev was visited by head of one of the largest power companies RAO EES Anatoly Chubais. He met with President Leonid Kuchma and Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich. The negotiations dealt with the buying by the company of 10 Ukrainian regional power boards. However, according to President Kuchma Ukraine at present is not ready to consider this issue since such purchases by a Russian state company should be made at the level of intergovernmental agreements.
Ukraine's Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich visited Turkey on December 1-2.
Ukrainian parliament's speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn made a visit to India on December 1-4.
Leader of Ukraine's Communist Party Petro Symonenko spoke in favor of expertizing all Ukrainian foundations and institutions bankrolled by foreign grants. According to him the subject-matter of the expertise should be "the conformity of the statutory and practical activities of all organizations receiving grants not only in line with Ukraine's legislation, but also in line with the national interests of the state". Presenting his reasons he referred to the events in Georgia.
The U.S. will consider an issue on granting Ukraine a status of a country with market economy
Ukraine received a proposal from the U.S. to launch an official procedure of obtaining the status of the country with market economy.
The proposal was made in the course of the negotiations late in November between Ukraine's Minister of Economy Valeriy Khoroshkovsky and U.S. ambassador in Kiev John Herbst.
After the negotiations the sides said that acquisition by Ukraine of the market status is quite tangible.
The American Embassy informed the Minister of Economy about six main criteria by which Ukraine would be assessed in terms of its readiness to obtain the market status: complete convertibility of the national currency in current accounts; the free setting of the wage; openness of economy for foreign investments; a degree of governmental control over prices and other factors (John Herbst explained that they meant the assessment of a level of democracy).
At the given meeting the Ukrainian side was informed about the U.S.'s claims to the Ukrainian trade regime, which is the subject of the negotiations within the framework of Ukraine's accession to the WTO.
As of today, Ukraine has established bilateral relations on matters of joining the WTO with 15 countries out of 43 that are members of the WTO Working Group.
The Ukrainian experts believe that the signing of the bilateral protocol with the U.S. will make it possible to substantially speed up the signing of the corresponding protocols with other countries and, accordingly, to speed up the whole procedure of joining the WTO.
A signal from the U.S. side have had positively repercussions in Ukraine.
At the same time, some experts express apprehensions that these U.S. actions had not been accidental to coincide with the actual start of the presidential election campaign in Ukraine (the campaign contrary to the Ukrainian legislation started de-facto by contender for the presidential seat from the parliamentary faction Our Ukraine Viktor Yushchenko).
The experts fear that it is, first of all, the matter of obtaining new leverage of influence on the internal political situation in Ukraine. At the same time, many of them note that the measures to support democracy carried out by the U.S. organizations operating in Ukraine are actually limited to the structures close to Our Ukraine or personally to Viktor Yushchenko.
In the meantime, democratic inclinations of some representatives of this bloc are doubtful - they openly express fascist views or actively participate in a wide-scale anti-Semitic campaign now underway in Ukraine.
From the viewpoint of commitments to the principles of liberal economy it is interesting that Viktor Yushchenko spoke in favor of introducing a moratorium on privatization and also on the prolongation of the moratorium on the land purchase and sale (which in accordance to the Land Code is to terminate from January 1, 2005. V. Yushchenko proposes to prolong the moratorium at least for two years).
Yushchenko's statement to the effect that Our Ukraine would be against the free sale of land until a favorable price situation is formed is interesting. This is about the same as to propose sportsmen to dive from a diving tower and then fill the swimming pool with water.