Archive for May, 2010


EU and Ukraine…….and the UK

May 26, 2010

Well dear readers, it seems on the back of Russia, Ukraine is moving slowly towards the easing of EU Visas and eventual visa-free travel in the Shengen zone.

He added that a visa-free promise for Russia should be accompanied by a similar offer to Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. The EU could extend the visa perspective to the group-of-six during informal remarks in the post-Rostov press conference or in the conclusions of the EU foreign ministers’ gathering in June, he said.

There is a political coup in the waiting for the current government……a visa-free promise by the EU in relation to Ukraine in June this year.  Of course the promise will be tied to the conditions Ukraine is now actively trying to achieve…….and they are trying to achieve it…….but the political key word is promise.

No matter how that is spun, it is a serious diplomatic word with serious diplomatic intentions.

Then, add to this the following from our man Mr Hague in the UK and abley assited by Mr Turner in Kyiv……..

British Ambassadors to Ukraine, Russia and Poland, Leigh Turner, Anne Pringle and Rick Todd, handed in to the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, Kostiantyn Hryshchenko a message from the newly appointed Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom, William Hague, confirming the intention of Britain to cooperate with Ukraine, the Foreign Ministry press service told Ukrinform.

The letter contains assurances that Britain is prepared to facilitate the process of Ukraine’s accession to the European Union. Hague is convinced that, as a European nation, Ukraine has the right for EU accession after attaining eligibility for membership, and London is ready to provide full support to the process, says the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry. During the meeting the parties discussed the current state of Ukraine’s relations with Russia and the EU, as well as vital issues of bilateral cooperation.

Does that mean that not only the Shengen barriers to Ukrainians will be coming down and the UK will become more easily accessible as well?

Whatever, it is good to see Blighty’s diplomats and FCO actually taking some interest in Ukraine that is overt rather than covert.

If only there was something I could do to assist Ukraine with its relations with the UK……..sometimes I can feel like a spare part as far as helping Ukraine and UK relations goes, despite knowing more influential Ukrainians than most Ukrainians do!

Anyway, positive signals with very positive diplomatic wording so crack on team and if I can help I will…….. other than any incidental expenses of course…… both nations are not exactly cash rich right now.


Taking integration steps……..

May 25, 2010

“We have a cooperation plan with the European Union for 2010 and we are fulfilling it. First of all we are working towards liberalization of visa procedures which would result in visa-free zone between Ukraine and Europe. Secondly, we are aimed at free trade zone with Europe. In June the parliament is going to pass a legislation package that would give us a green light for more substantial negotiations with the European Union” – Yanukovych said.

I look forward to seeing this vote in the RADA after the “united opposition” have stated to the EU they would support such moves. 

The question will be is that “support” by way of positively voting for the laws required and thus being seen to agree with the government…… would happen in a more mature political environment………or will it simply be a matter of providing no opposition and obstaining from the vote…….so as to be seen not to agreee with the government even though they do agree with the policy?

If the latter, how then to campaign on European integration when not being on record as voting for it?

If the former, how then to continue to rubbish the current government as being Pro-Moscow when it is taking definite step towards European integration?


Umbrella’s Gas Masks, Punch Bags & Smoke Bombs in Europe……

May 24, 2010

Ukraine to assume presidency of CoE Committee of Ministers next year
Ukraine will assume presidency of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe during its 121st session in May 2011. Such a decision was taken at a meeting of the CoE Committee of Ministers in Strasbourg, the press service of the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry reported.

While describing the priorities of the future presidency, Deputy Foreign Minister Oleksandr Kupchyshyn said that Ukraine would focus on the importance of implementing decisions of the Interlaken Conference on the Reform of the European Court of Human Rights, as well as prioritize the implementation of a memorandum of mutual understanding between the CoE and the European Union. Kupchyshyn said that joint efforts aimed at improving the effectiveness of the Council of Europe’s activity would have a positive effect on all the countries belonging to this association. The chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe has currently been handed over from Switzerland to the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

I do hope they know what they are letting themselves in for……….]BBC


Back to Gas………

May 23, 2010

With the merger of NaftogazUkraine and Gazprom exceptionally unlikely……but the possibility of joint ventures remaining, here is a few gas articles with nothing to do with Gazprom……..

Interfax-Ukraine NJSC Naftogaz Ukrainy CEO Yevhen Bakulin and President of the European Union of the Natural Gas Industry (Eurogas) Domenico Dispenza on May 21, 2010, signed a memorandum of understanding in Berlin, Germany, the Ukrainian company said in a press release issued on Friday.

According to the press release, Naftogaz earlier started the procedure of becoming a Eurogas associated member.

The major task of Eurogas’s work is to facilitate the development of the European gas market, expand international cooperation in the gas sector, and support European companies’ interests in the issues of supplying, selling and storing natural gas.

Currently Eurogas consists of 49 members from 27 countries. Of them there are 35 gas companies, and 12 national gas unions.

Interesting?…….Maybe not, but at least they are a change to the norm when it comes to the reporting of gas here.


Hanna Herman……You are the weakest link……..

May 22, 2010

Ukraine’s most popular political talks shows must be anchored by Ukrainian journalists, not foreigners, deputy head of presidential administration Hanna Herman said, speaking on Ukrayina TV channel May 20, The Ukrayinska Pravda reports May 21.

“I would like Ukrainian journalists to run such popular political talk shows. There are many able journalists in Ukraine who know well how to do their job,” she added.

“We are still victims to that imperial complex that “everything coming from Moscow is good, everything Ukrainian is bad,” Herman said, speaking about Savik Shuster who is citizen of Canada and Italy and who worked in Russia for some time.

Savik Shuster is anchorman of the Shuster Live political talk show. Another alien, Russian Yevgenij Kiseliov, runs the popular Big Politics show. [Both Shuster and Kiseliov moved to Ukraine from Moscow, as is widely believed fleeing from political persecution – Transl.]

Well dear readers, not wishing to appear to split hairs with Ms Herman, after all she was a Radio Free Europe person herself before joining Party of Regions and the Presidential Administration………but…….

If Ukrainian political shows should have Ukrainians anchoring them, then shouldn’t the Prime Minister of Ukraine also be a Ukrainian?

As it happens, the two most popular political shows are hosted by a Russian (Kiseliov)………. just as the Ukrainian Prime Minister is Russian by birth…….and Shuster (Italian/Canadian citizenship).

Both were incredibly popular in Russia on similar shows when I lived in Moscow and obviously fell out with the Kremlin because neither really show any more respect than is necessary for any politician that go on their shows…….and quite rightly.

The reason they are popular is that they are, by and large, good at what they do and ask far better questions than anything you see asked by Ukrainian journalists who are generally very poor…… matter what Ms Herman likes to think.

Both, like the Ukrainian Prime Minister, do their shows in Russian language not Ukrainian……as of course more people understand Russian in Ukraine than Ukrainian in Ukraine according to their media preamble relating to the shows.

I am digressing though, if the most popular political talk shows in Ukraine should be hosted by Ukrainians simply because they would be Ukrainian, then surely the Prime Miniter of Ukraine should be Ukrainiane by the same reasoning.

Once again, as she has proved rather consistantly over the years, Hanna Herman, you are the weakest link……..


A few words from President Yanukovych

May 21, 2010

Speech from Kyiv to Medevedev and Kyiv ecnonomic forum………..

Dear Dmitry Anatolyevich!

Dear participants of the Forum!

I would like to note with satisfaction that we return to the tradition of holding joint Ukrainian-Russian economic forums.

The path of dialogue and cooperation is the only correct choice in the conditions of systemic crisis that has engulfed virtually the entire world.

We, of course, regret the lost time and opportunities. But thanks to lessons learned, we became pragmatic and focused.

I would like to dwell on some of these lessons.

Lesson One. The global crisis has once again demonstrated the vulnerability of even the strongest and most developed economies.

The United States, European Union, Japan, Great Britain are all through strength test. All the countries of the “big twenty” are experiencing losses.

The crisis has again demonstrated that the positive outcome is possible only with mutual responsibility and support.

Being strategic partners, Ukraine and Russia at the same time are large and reliable partners of the European Union.

In the current very difficult circumstances for the European Union, we must maintain the stability of relations, particularly in the crucial energy sector.

I am certain that our agreements in this area will be an additional guarantee for all EU countries and allow Ukraine to consistently conduct deep reforms in the energy sector.

Lesson Two. High level of interdependence of national economies in a globalized world requires us to elaborate new approaches to long-term national development planning.

It is critical for Ukraine that our bilateral agreements on economic cooperation “worked” for national development projects that we are preparing in the framework of the program of reforms. And our actions will always be open, clear and predictable for our partners in the West and the East.

Lesson Three. Economic processes are directly affecting the state of affairs in security area.

Old stereotypes often prevent us from reaching a new level of relations. I am sure that new approaches to security must be associated with guaranteeing security of development, rather than with preservation of the so-called “old order”.

Ukraine conducts non-aligned policy to prevent appearance of new dividing lines in Europe, as well as to strengthen and enhance development of the whole European space.

Our task is to elaborate new mechanisms of interaction in the area of security with the member countries of military alliances, non-aligned countries and countries with neutral status.

This algorithm can be the basis for a modernized architecture of united and indivisible security in the Euro-Atlantic region.

The principle of collective solving geopolitical and security issues will be decisive in the future post-crisis world.

With Dmitry Medvedev, we have offered new initiatives on security in the Black Sea region and settlement of the Transnistrian problem. In these incentives we proceed from the principle of collective and concerted action by all the interested parties.

Lesson Four. The European choice of Ukraine remains just a dream until deep social-economic reforms are realized.

We have wasted much time because of the instability and ineffectiveness of government in the past years. Now we must catch up and it is not easy.

Ukraine has a real chance to conclude negotiations and sign the Association Agreement with the European Union in a short time and solve the problem of visa regulations and expanded free trade area establishment.

I created the Committee on Reforms, which involves leading Ukrainian and foreign experts, representatives of regional authorities and national science.

In early June we will present a program of economic reforms in Ukraine. The “new wave” of reforms will promote a new quality of economic growth, efficiency of competitive market mechanisms, economic attractiveness of Ukraine for investors.

The package of Ukrainian reforms is aimed at long-term perspective and is designed to reach an ambitious goal – to create modern competitive economy, new infrastructure, efficient social-oriented state, high quality of life.

We have set a goal to conduct systematic modernization of the country, turn it into a strong and prosperous republic.

At the same time, we must admit that we begin the race with a “low start”.

Without exaggeration, last year was the most economically difficult for modern Ukraine. We decided to conduct a comprehensive audit of public finances with the help of international companies. Despite the difficult economic and financial situation, I am confident that we will adequately overcome all the existing difficulties.

In this brief period we were able to achieve significant changes for the better. First of all we stabilized the situation in the economy. In the first quarter real GDP growth was 4.8%.

Between January and April the industrial growth was 12,6%, agricultural – almost 5% and turnover – more than 16%.

Inflation rates were significantly decreased and exchange rate stabilized.

The growth of export over import has begun; the situation with foreign trade and balance of payments of the country is improving.

The Parliament approved the State Budget of Ukraine for 2010, which is based on realistic figures.

I would like to emphasize that the spending on implementation of scientific and technological innovations and investment projects in aerospace and in rocket-space industry, energy and agriculture was tripled by this budget.

We seek to reestablish cooperation with the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

Ukraine’s sovereign rating is increasing. Our country is again perceived as a solvent state.

According to our calculations, such dynamics of Ukraine’s economy growth will last until the end of the year, but the next year we should start within the Program of Ukraine’s development until 2020. It means that this year we must elaborate such a program.

The anti-crisis measures program has started working, and it helps stabilizing political and economic situation in the country.

Implementation of large infrastructure projects should play an important role here. Including those, organized in preparation of Ukraine for hosting EURO 2012.

The appropriate legislative work is already done.

In the same context I would like to indicate that from our part we are ready to contribute to preparation for the Olympic Games 2014 in Sochi.

Dear Dmitry Anatolyevich,

Dear Colleagues,

Without a doubt, deepening and broadening of relations with our strategic partners will promote effective development of Ukrainian economy.

First of all, it refers to the Russian Federation.

Unfortunately, last year the trade turnover between our countries fell by more than 35%.

However, now, when the new government is responsible for the situation in the country, the trade turnover has almost doubled compared to the same period last year. And the primary task for our governments is at least to return it by the end of the year to the level we had before the crisis hit. And we believe it is quite possible.

We are optimistic about the prospects of economic cooperation between Ukraine and the Russian Federation. The main thing is that we returned to strategic partnership, provided by the Treaty on Friendship and Cooperation. New opportunities for transition to a qualitatively new stage of interaction between our countries are now opened. I mean upgrading the whole spectrum of trade and economic relations, development of innovative and investment directions and bilateral cooperation in economy.

Yesterday, the Presidents of Ukraine and Russia chaired the third meeting of the Ukrainian-Russian Intergovernmental Commission. The work of this important institution has been resumed after almost a two-year break.

We created atmosphere of partnership and trust that provided necessary conditions for constructive and effective work to address the entire range of important issues of Ukrainian-Russian cooperation.

Following the meeting, together with President Medvedev, as Co-Chairmen of the Commission, we instructed the Governments of Ukraine and Russia to elaborate a number of practical steps to fill our bilateral relations with substance and develop “roadmaps” of mutually beneficial initiatives in priority sectors of economy.

In our opinion, this applies to:

– Development of Ukraine’s capabilities of oil and gas transportation to the European Union. Long-term strategy and mechanisms of its joint implementation, coordinated with the Russian and European partners, must be developed;

– Cooperation in energy sector;

– Cooperation in high-tech industries, in which both Ukraine and Russia have experience and achievements, such as space exploration, aircraft building, biological and information technology, production and service cooperation, joint actions at markets of the third countries;

– Creation of favorable conditions for trade cooperation through synergy of customs and tax authorities, joint technical and legal support of trade-flows, combating smuggling, unfair competition and “laundering” of proceeds;

– Regulation of labor migration and provision of social protection to our citizens working abroad.

In our opinion, these and other promising areas should be the basis for long-term comprehensive ten-year Program of Economic Cooperation between Russia and Ukraine, as well as the Program of Bilateral Interregional and Border Cooperation.

In addition, we agreed to hold the Russian-Ukrainian Interregional Economic Forum under the patronage of the Presidents of Russia and Ukraine in 2010 in Krasnodar Krai and another, in 2011 in Donetsk region, as well as Russian-Ukrainian Business Forum on infrastructure projects and modernization issues in October 2010 in Kyiv.

Coordinated work of all departments of the Ukrainian-Russian Interstate Commissions produced a package of signed bilateral documents. In particular, we signed the agreement on demarcation of the Ukrainian-Russian state border, which will enable us to proceed with practical delimitation of its land part.

The Intergovernmental Agreement on cooperation in utilizing and development of the Russian global navigation satellite system GLONASS and a number of interdepartmental documents on cooperation in education, science and culture were signed.

Commission’s meeting confirmed that both Ukraine and Russia are ready to continue the established trustworthy and fruitful dialogue at all levels of interaction without exception, and aim to achieve specific mutually beneficial results.

Thank you for your attention.


Getting busy on the foreign policy front!

May 21, 2010

Well dear readers, I can’t remember the last time Ukraine has been so busy when it comes to foreign policy regardless of whether it is with swift decision makers like Russia, China and the USA or the slothes of the EU.

Aside from the RBSF deal, gas deal, possible cooperation in aviation, space, energy and technology with Russia……all happening at a pace, there is also China wanting to carry out joint ventures with Ukraine in similar fields, as well as other high tech areas, giving up highly enriched nuclear material to please the US, active and consistant negotiation with the EU on the free trade agreement and visa free travel…….not to mention ongoing and seemingly fruitful talks with the IMF, WB, EBRD and European bank.

Add to this visa free negotiations with Israel and Turkey to name but two, active reengagement with the CIS, the allowing of several NATO exercises on Ukrainian soil very shortly plus official invitations to Vietnam and other eastern nations and it seems things are moving in many directions at a serious pace……or at least the pace that others involved in the bilateral negotiations can move at.

Now many will not be happy with certain policy decisions but it seems very difficult to question the energy that is being put into carving bilateral relations globally.

Let’s just hope that the majority will be good decisions with Ukrainian interests at heart.

Time will tell!

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