Events from March 19 to March 26, 2004
On March 25 the Ukrainian parliament passed the law on the proportional-based election to parliament. The adoption of this law was part of the agreement on the political reform.
The opposition faction Our Ukraine and other opponents of the bill introduced more than 900 amendments (!) therefore the discussion lasted from the morning to eleven thirty before midnight.
On March 20 the Peace March was held in Kiev against the U.S. actions in Iraq. Some 800 people took part in this march.
First deputy State Secretary of the U.S. Richard Armitage on March 25-26 visited Ukraine. He had talks with Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs Konstantyn Hryshchenko, President Kuchma and Prime Minister Yanukovych. It is presumed that the main aim of his visit was to persuade Ukraine not to withdraw its peacekeeping contingent from Iraq. "The U.S. is afraid that following the Spain's statements Ukraine may make its mind to recall its peacekeepers," a source from the Foreign Ministry said.
In addition, Armitage insisted that the presidential elections in Ukraine should be held "honestly and transparently".
Deputy U.S. State Secretary Elisabeth Johns met in Kiev with Volodymyr Lytvyn, the chairman of Ukraine's Verkhovna Rada. She said that the U.S. are ready to promote Ukraine's participation in restoration of Iraq.
As is expected soon Ukraine will be visited by more U.S. politicians.
On March 20 the 14th Congress of Ukraine's People's Rukh was held in Kiev which was in favor of nominating Viktor Yushchenko as a presidential candidate.
A large scuffle took place on March 23 in Simferopol (Crimea) between the Tartars and the Slavs. General Prosecutor of Ukraine Gennadiy Vasiliev and other officials flew to Crimea to investigate the circumstances of the event. The arrest of one of the Tartars, who had been the fomenter of the fight, provoked a mass meeting of the Crimea tartars requiring the release of their mate.
Ukraine seeks to obtain contracts for post-war restoration of Iraq
Starting from the Special World Economic Forum in Davos devoted to Iraq's topics Ukraine are taking active steps to procure commissions for the work aimed at the restoration of Iraq.
This issues was discussed on March 17 in Geneva at the meeting between Ukraine's Minister of Foreign Affairs Konstantyn Hryshchenko and deputy U.S. State Secretary Pola Dobriansky.
On March 18 the issue of Ukraine's participation in the rebuilding of Iraq was discussed during a round of tripartite Ukrainian-Polish-U.S. consultations.
The International Business-Forum Rebuilding Iraq sponsored by the business circles of Ukraine, Jordan and Iraq was held in Amman, capital of Jordan, on March 15-16. Jordanian companies hope to take part as subcontractors together with the Ukrainian companies in implementing the contracts in Iraq.
On March 25 the issues of Ukraine's participation in the restoration of Iraq were discussed at the meeting of head of the Ukrainian parliament Volodymyr Lytvyn and deputy U.S. Secretary of State Elisabeth Johns who once again confirmed the U.S. interest in attracting Ukrainian companies in the restoration works.
This facts is a graphic evidence of Ukraine's activity for obtaining Iraqi contracts - relevant negotiations and discussions are held effectively non-stop.
U.S. spokespersons repeatedly said that Ukraine directly involved in the peacekeeping mission had been entitled to obtain these contracts.
At the same time, the facts indicate that so far Ukraine has been completely isolated from participation in Iraqi contracts.
After terrorist acts of March 11 in Spain many a political force in Ukraine spoke in favor of withdrawing the Ukrainian military contingent from Iraq.
It is characteristic that these demands were first of all put forward by the representatives of the opposition forces including those of Our Ukraine Viktor Yushchenko.
One of the main arguments of Ukrainian authorities in continuing the participation of the Ukrainian troops in the Iraqi operation is a prospect for the Ukrainian companies to take part in restoration of Iraqi's economy.
But since despite repeated statements of the U.S. spokespersons in the expediency of such a participation, a practical result is still absent, this argument becomes weaker every day.
If there is no positive changes in the development of the situation, it cannot be ruled out that it may affect most seriously Ukraine's stance toward its continued participation in the Iraqi operation.