Events from June 6 to June 12, 2004
On June 9 President Kuchma gave a press conference. At this press conference he, in particular, confirmed that he was not going to take part in the presidential elections slated for October 2004. He also added that he just as the leaders of the opposition wanted to look at "Ukraine without Kuchma" (the opposition's motto).
He expressed regret over the fact that so far the Jackson-Vanik amendment with respect to Ukraine had not been cancelled and referred to this issue as "a means to bring pressure to bear on Ukraine".
The 6th Congress if Ukraine's Agrarian Party was held on June 9. The Congress elected Volodymyr Lytvyn, speaker of Ukrainian parliament, as their leader. Until recently Lytvyn was non-partisan. The party was renamed into the People's Agrarian Party of Ukraine.
Sergei Mironov, chairman of the Council of the Federation (Russia's parliament's upper house) visited Ukraine on June 10-11.
On June 2 the Turkish authorities detained a cargo in the port of Istanbul. The cargo was bound from Ukraine to Egypt. After a week of investigations Turkish authority's spokesmen officially admitted that the incident involving the detention in Istanbul of the Ukrainian cargo had been of "an exceptionally technical nature" and did not contained any political undertones against Ukraine. Turkey confirmed that the data on illegal sales of arms and ammunitions were unverified and unveracious.
The Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that it considered this incident exhausted.
Commentary. The reports that Ukraine is allegedly engaged in illicit traffic of arms do crop up rather systematically. The experts are inclined to interpret such unverified reports first of all as a way to hamper the activities of a serious rival on the market of arms.
Member of the U.S. Broadcasting Board of Directors for Broadcasting Issues Jeffrey Hirshberg on June 10 met with Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich. After the meeting he said that the main goal of his visit was the renewal of the broadcastings of the radio Liberty and the Voice of America and added "the Ukrainian people must know what we are talking about".
Ukrainian economy continues its fast growth
Despite some minor delays in the industrial growth over the last 3 months its increase in January-May, compared with the relevant period of last year, was 16.9%.
The fasted pace of the industrial growth was registered in machine building - 36.5%. The export of this sector's products grew compared with January-May 2003 2.3 times.
At present the share of machine building in Ukraine's overall export constitutes 20% and last year it was 13%.
The fast growth of the volumes and specific weight of machine building in manufacturing and export is a distinctive feature of Ukrainian economy, which fundamentally distinguishes it from other economies of the CIS countries, which predominantly develop at the expense of their raw material extracting sectors.
The construction sector's volumes increased by 32% and those of capital investments increased by 52%.
Export of goods from Ukraine in January-April 2004 compared with January-April 2003 grew by 49.3%, import - correspondingly by 34%.
Foreign trade favorable balance in January-April constituted USD 1,542 million (in January-May: USD 857.2 million).
Early in the second tend-day period of June Ukraine's gold and foreign exchange reserves reached a record level of USD 9.4 billion.
NATO plans to use Ukrainian transport aircraft "Ruslan"
At the informal consultation meeting NATO-Ukraine in the King's Castle in Warsaw, which was attended by defense ministers from 26 NATO member-countries and with participation of Alliance Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, Ukraine signed a Memorandum with the North-Atlantic Bloc on understanding within whose framework the Alliance will use Ukrainian transport planes for its operations.
Presumably, these will be An-124-100 planes "Ruslan", which are one of the best in their class. The cargo capacity of the liner is 120 tons, while an upgraded version is designed for carrying 150 tons. A "Ruslan" plane is capable of carrying various cargoes including super-heavy and bulky goods, of making take-off and landing from the unprepared airfields.
The Ukrainian company "Antonov's Airlines" operating the "Ruslans", participates in the NATO tender for transport plane to carry goods. The "Ruslan's" major rival is a U.S. C-17 plane manufactured by Boeing.
A decision at the outcome of the bidding is expected to be made in Summer at the Alliance summit. A contract should be signed by the end of 2004.