Events from April 24 to 30, 2004
On April 29 Dublin (Ireland) became a venue for the meeting "Ukraine - the EU Three". The observers assessed it as unsuccessful for Ukraine since the European Union again declined giving Ukraine the status of a country with market economy.
On April 29 President Kuchma took part in the European Economic Summit in Warsaw (Poland). Speaking at the summit Kuchma expressed disappointment at the European Union's decision and called upon the European Union to draw clear outlines for Ukraine's prospects to integrate into Europe.
Ukraine Loses Two More Soldiers In Iraq. Two Ukrainian soldiers were killed in Iraq on 28 April. One soldier when his patrol came under attack, while another died of injuries sustained in the attack. Also on 28 April, the Communist Party called for an emergency parliamentary session to pass a bill on the withdrawal of Ukraine’s 1,800-strong military contingent from Iraq. President Kuchma told journalists later the same day that some politicans resort to "brazen cynicism" in speculating on on the troops’ withdrawal from Iraq. He stressed that last year some 23,000 people died in Ukraine in road accidents or because of drug and alcohol abuse. In addition to that, Kuchma said, 143 people died in accidents in the Ukrainian military in 2003. Kuchma concluded by saying that "our position remains the same."
Comment: These latest casualties bring that county’s death toll among Uklrainian peacekeepers to six.
Ukrainian, Georgian Presidents Discuss Cooperation.
President of Georgia Mikhail Saakashvili visited Ukraine on an official visit (April 26-28). He met with President Leonid Kuchma on April 27. Presidents bilateral and multilateral cooperation. Both sides reportedly agreed to remove restrictions on free trade between their countries. They also agreed that the next summit of GUUAM (Georgia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Moldova) should be held in Tbilisi. Kuchma and Saakashvili confirmed that the Ukrainian and Georgian military contingents in Iraq will remain there until the end of their mission.
Saakashvili met also Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich and opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko.
Ukrainian President Remains Upbeat About Yanukovich As Presidential Candidate. President Kuchma said on 28 April that he has no doubts that Prime Minister Yanukovich will be confirmed as the presidential candidate of the pro-government coalition by upcoming congresses of all the political parties in this coalition. Yanukovich was proposed as a presidential candidate earlier this month by leaders of pro-government groups in the parliament. Commenting on the reported announcements that some pro-government parties want to field their own presidential candidates, Kuchma said, "It is only a game to show off their own significance."
Comment: The Chairman of the National Bank and the leader of the Labor Ukraine Party Serhiy Tyhypko earlier this week said that if instructed by his party’s congress or if the discussions over the cabinet posts breakdown, he will run for president.
Ukrainian Lawmakers Rearrange Factions. A new parliamentary group called Center has emerged in the parliament last week. Center has 16 deputies, including Oleksander Omelchenko and Taras Chornovil, former members of Victor Yuschenko’s Our Ukraine parliamentary caucus. Moreover, the Industrialists and Enterprreneurs/Labor Ukraine caucus has dissolved itself and created a Labor Ukraine parliamentary group consisting of 28 deputies. The current array of forces in the 448-member Parliament is as follows:
Our Ukraine--------------------- 100 deputies (right opposition)
Ukraine’s Regions--------------- 66 deputies
Communist Party---------------- 59 deputies (left opposition)
Social Democratic Party-united--- 38 deputies
Labor Ukraine-------------------- 28 deputies
Socialist Party-------------------- 20 deputies (left opposition)
Yulia Timoshenko Bloc------------ 19 deputies (right opposition)
People’s Power-------------------- 18 deputies
Democratic Initiatives-------------- 17 deputies
Agrarian Party--------------------- 16 deputies
Center----------------------------- 16 deputies
Popular Choice--------------------- 13 deputies
Comment: The Parliament is to close its current session on 2 July, a week earlier than planned because of the remodeling of the session chamber.
Deputy Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs at the U.S. Department of State, and former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, Steven Pifer visited Kiev on April 24-27. He met with the Ukrainian parliament speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn and Prime Minister Yanukovich.
Ukrainian boxer Vitaliy Klichko during a fight in Los-Angeles on April 24 won the world champion title in the WBC version having beaten South-African sportsman Corry Sanders.
Ukraine asks the U.S. to increase support for its accession to the WTO
This was a request with which Ukraine's Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich addressed Department of State Deputy Assistant Secretary Steven Pifer who was visiting Kiev on April 24 to 27.
"We hope for a more active support for Ukraine's accession to the WTO by the U.S.", Viktor Yanukovich stressed.
Earlier the U.S. representatives repeatedly spoke about a similar support, but the promises given were not underpinned by any substantial actions (just as in the issue on the Jackson-Vanik amendment).
The U.S. support is especially important for Ukraine now when Ukrainian application to joint the WTO is being considered in Geneva.
As of today Ukraine has signed 23 out of 33 bilateral protocols on the access to the market of goods and services. The Verkhovna Rada adopted about 20 new laws harmonizing its legislation with the WTO standards.
Steven Pifer in his turn said that Ukraine's accession to the Common Economic Space may become an impediment for Ukraine's accession to the WTO.
In Ukraine such statements are perceived with bewilderment since the CES agreement is only a framework agreement therefore at present no specific actions have been taken, which theoretically would prevent Ukraine from joining the WTO.
In addition, Ukraine repeatedly said that it would never sign any agreements within the CES framework, which would prevent its accession to the WTO.
Some analysts in Ukraine believe that issues of Ukraine's accession to the WTO, its recognition as a country with market economy, cancellation of the Jackson-Vanik amendment and a number of others are used simply as levers of political pressure to bear upon Ukraine on the part of the U.S.
But it should be taken into account that such a policy may have a reverse effect and stimulate Ukraine's movement toward the CES and Euroasian integration.
Viktor Yanukovich during his meting with Steven Pifer expressed hope that the U.S. would recognize the market economy status of Ukrainian economy and would lift restrictions for the export of goods to the U.S.
Economic aftermath of the Chernobyl accident
One more passed year marking the Chernobyl accident (April 26) provided a reason for a broad discussion in Ukraine of an issue of its economic consequences for Ukraine.
The analysts noted that for 13 years Ukraine had been actually aidless to fund the lion's share of costs related to overcoming Chernobyl aftermath.
Annually 5 to 7% of the country's national budget are spent for these purposes, the total amount of expenses has already exceeded USD 7 billion.
No doubt, this is a colossal load on a still rather weak economy of Ukraine.
Without a Chernobyl factor it is impossible in full measure to assess those complexities which Ukrainian economy had to face within the period of achieving its independence.
Ukrainian President Slams Poland For Inaction Over Odesa-Brody Pipeline. President Kuchma harshly criticized Poland earlier this week for what he sees as Warsaw’s lack of cooperation in making the Odesa-Brody oil pipeline a route for transporting Caspian oil to Europe. Kuchma said Poland has not made a "single poke of a shovel" and not allocated any funds to prolong the Odesa-Brody pipeline to Plock.
Comment: Kiev and Warsaw signed an intergovernmental accord on extending the pipeline to Plock in January 2004.