Events from May 8 to 13, 2004
On May 4 Ukraine was elected a member of the Executive Council of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the Joint Executive Council of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA). A three-year term of Ukraine's membership in these two executive councils will start on January 1, 2005.
Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich named Anna Herman as his press secretary. Previously she was in charge of the Kiev Directorate of the Radio Liberty Station.
President of Ukraine Leonid Kuchma by his decree awarded Ukrainian servicemen from the peacekeeping contingent with the order "For Valor", 3rd class. Three of them were awarded posthumously.
Ukrainian ombudswoman Nina Karpacheva on May 5 called upon Ukrainian parliament to make a decision for the withdrawal of the Ukrainian troops from Iraq. This issue was raised several times by the members of the Communist Party faction, however it was never put on parliament's agenda.
On May 13-15 Ukraine was visited by prominent U.S. political scientist Zbiegnew Brzezinski. On May 13 he had a talk with President Kuchma.
The European Union Enlargement Commissioner Gunter Verheugen said on May 12 in Prague, the Czech Republic, that he ruled out a long-range prospects for Ukraine, Russia and Moldova to become members of the European Union. Earlier approximately the same was said by the President of the European Union Romano Prodi.
Speaking at the parliamentary hearings in the wake of the explosions at the army munitions depots in the south of Ukraine Vice Prime Minister Andriy Klyuyev said that Ukraine's Armed Forces had 82 military depots of the operations commands and 138 munitions depots storing more than 3 million tons of ammunitions. 200,000 tons of munitions and 24,000 tons of the missiles are slated for utilization.
The experts believe that the pace of their utilization is painfully slow and not enough appropriations are allocated for this purpose.
Ukraine's foreign trade in goods
In the first quarter of the current year Ukraine's foreign trade turnover registered an appreciable growth.
The export of goods in January through March accounted for USD 7,174.5 million having increased by 45.2% compared with the January through March period of 2003. The import of goods accounted for USD 6,317.1 million having increased by 39.2%.
In this case goods trade surplus substantially improved. If in 2003 it diminished compared with 2002 by USD 920.9 million accounting for only USD 59.4 million, then in the first quarter of 2004 the export of goods exceeded import by USD 857.2.
Ukraine also has substantial export surplus in the foreign trade of services.
A considerable inflow of free-convertible currency to the country as a result of the foreign-trade operations makes it possible for the National Bank of Ukraine to pursue a policy of a constant buildup of its international reserves. As of today the foreign reserves have exceeded USD 8.52 billion.
A characteristic feature in the upgrowth of Ukraine's foreign trade is a leading pace in the development of trade among the CIS countries.
The export of goods from Ukraine to the CIS countries increased in the first quarter of 2004 almost by 50% as compared with a similar period of last year; import grew by 35.4%.
In trade with Russia a substantial unfavorable balance remains - USD 1,373.4 million. But in this case export of goods to Russia increased substantially by 41.3% in the first quarter of 2004, while import increased only by 37.6%.
On the whole one may state that the policy of offsetting economic losses adopted by the Ukrainian government, those losses resulting from the EU expansion and as a result of U.S. tough protective measures in respect to Ukrainian goods, thanks to the leading pace in the development of foreign-trade with the CIS countries, first of all with Russia, yields positive economic effects.
Sufficiently unequivocal utterances of a number of leading EU officials about impossibility in principle for Ukraine to become a member of the EU even in a distant future makes the plans of creating the Common Economic Space and a closer integration (thus far economic one) with Russia more real.