Events from December 8 to December 15, 2003
On December 8-9 Ukraine's Minister of Defense Yevhen Marchuk took part in the international conference "Transformation of NATO: Agenda for a New Century" held in London.
On December 9 the Ukrainian parliament gave its consent to sending the Ukrainian peacekeepers to Liberia. Parties of the parliamentary majority voted in favor, while the opposition factions Our Ukraine, the Yuliya Tymoshenko bloc, the Communists and the Socialists were against.
On December 10-11 Minister of Foreign Affairs Konstantyn Hryshchenko visited Baghdad. He met with head of Iraqi Provisional Civil Administration Paul Bremer.
They discussed, in particular, the possibility of Ukrainian participation in the reconstruction of the airport in the city of Al-Kut.
Iraq was also visited by Commander of Ukraine's Ground Armed Forces Petro Shulyak.
On December 10 the UN granted the status of an observer to the GUUAM organization - a regional organization of 5 former USSR republics (Georgia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan and Moldova).
President Kuchma fired Vice Prime Minister in charge of the fuel and power complex Vitaliy Haiduk (Dec. 5). He was replaced by Andriy Klyuyev (Dec. 10).
The Ukrainian parliament following a proposal of the Communists voted for setting up a parliamentary commission, which is to check the operations of those foundations and institutions, which work in Ukraine and are financed by foreign sponsors. According to some data foreign bankrolling accounts for about 60% of all funds financing such foundations in Ukraine.
On December 11 the Verkhovna Rada again elected Valentyn Symonenko (a namesake of leader of the Ukrainian Communists Petro Symonenko) as the head of Ukraine's Clearing House).
On December 11 the Verkhovna Rada passed the law on the freedom of movement and free choice of a place of residence providing for the registration of natural persons in place of residence permit (propiska).
Commentary. The institution of residence permit (propiska) that existed in the Soviet time substantially limited possibilities for free movement in the country: a person without a residence permit could not find for himself a permanent employment at his place of residence. In recent years these restrictions have not been in effect, however formally this institution was still in place.
Minister of Justice of Ukraine Oleksandr Lavrynovich took part (Dec. 9-11) in the Political Conference in Merida (Mexico) and signed on behalf of Ukraine the UN Convention on Fighting Corruption.
On December 15 President Kuchma visited Azerbaijan to take part in the funeral of former president of Azerbaijan Heidar Aliyev.
President of Ukraine Leonid Kuchma congratulated (Dec. 15) U.S. President George Bush with the arrest of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.
"I sincerely congratulate you personally and on behalf of the Ukrainian people with an important victory in fighting terrorism - the capture of Saddam Hussein, who, for what was committed by him and his regime, should stand trial" Kuchma's wire says.
Annex: New points in the U.S. policy toeard Ukraine
In an interview to the weekly "Halytski Contrakty" (Dec. 9) John Herbst addressed a few points.
1. One of the main issues of serious concern for the U.S. was a discussion initiated by some Ukrainian politicians on the renewal of Ukraine's nuclear status. The U.S. ambassador unequivocally hinted that a response to the attempts to renew Ukraine's nuclear status could be a regime of financial sanctions. As Herbst said the renewal of Ukraine's nuclear status "could become a very expensive business" since expenses for it could not be limited by the funds spent on the development of a nuclear program, but "would include also losses determined by the fact that many nations would seriously oppose such plans".
Realizing the impact of the events around the island of Tuzla Mr. Herbst said that the U.S. intended to adhere to guarantees, which they granted to Ukraine when the latter renounced its nuclear weapons.
2. In the field of international security of Ukraine Mr. Herbst also pointed out the possibility of "a qualitative breakthrough" on the pathway of Ukraine's accession to NATO. In particular, he believed that such a breakthrough could take place in 2004 at the NATO Summit in Istanbul (which was said about it for the first time).
3. In the meantime, he referred to the holding of transparent and fair elections of Ukraine's president as a necessary condition for such a "breakthrough".
Thus, the sphere of society democratization and elections of the president is within the field of the U.S. priority attention (within the context of preparation for Ukraine's accession to NATO). According to the U.S. ambassador "Ukraine has prospects to attain splendid results in this field having conducted in the next year transparent and fair presidential elections".
It cannot be ruled out that Herbst meant the following: "if you elect the president correctly - there will be a breakthrough to NATO".
4. Mr. Herbst was concerned with acute response of the Ukrainian political circles to the U.S. part in the events in Georgia and to the demands to probe into the activities of the organization using foreign grants. Herbst assessed as "overt cynicism" the attempts to accuse foreign diplomats in the interference during the run-up to the presidential elections in Ukraine. According to the U.S. ambassador foreign diplomats "has freedom to express their opinion without any restrictions" about these or other processes taking place in Ukraine (a contestable declaration!). Herbst said that the U.S. was ready to extend technical assistance for organizations and for holding the elections, in particular, in the organization of the election campaign monitoring.
5. Mr. Herbst did not agree with the statements that Ukraine soon would obtain from the U.S. a status of a country with market economy. This decision will be taken with the account of economic circumstances and indicators in Ukraine and also with the account of the fact how well American companies work in Ukraine. (It is worth to note that the ban on chicken meat import from the U.S. was lifted by the Ukrainian side).
British analyst J. Sherr (from the Britain's Defense Academy) expressed a number of interesting considerations about the state of the art in the relations between Ukraine, Russia and the U.S. According to him after a conflict around the island of Tuzla Ukraine had to immediately address the international community with a request to assist in the settlement of this conflict. At the same time, at present it is absolutely unacceptable since it is necessary to address the issue when there is a threat rather than a month later. Sherr unequivocally defined the U.S. as a main potential ally of Ukraine in the event of similar aggravations of the situation. According to his opinion Ukraine's apprehensions would be more understandable for Washington if one relates them to what happened in Georgia since now the U.S. begins to realize that there are serious problems in connection with Russia's ambitions on the territories of the former USSR. Now it is necessary to exploit this new mood prevailing in the U.S. and in the West on the whole. If Ukraine raises this issue then everybody will understand its concern he said.
Thus one may expect that now (in contrast to the indefinite position, which the U.S. held in October) the U.S. and its allies use all possible attempts to aggravate Ukrainian-Russian contradictions and compel the Ukrainian leadership to ask the U.S. for protection in what concerns security.
At the same time it is important to note that representatives of the U.S. and Britain spoke about assistance at the time when the issue ceased to be imperative, i.e. when such a proposal is no longer related to a real risk to be in conflict with Russia because of Ukraine.