Archive for January, 2011


Constitutional Change – Tymoshenko speaks

January 31, 2011

Ukraine’s ex-Prime Minister and leader of the Batkivschyna Party Yulia Tymoshenko has proposed constitutional amendments which she said will give citizens real levers to defend their rights and liberties.

“The nation must rally around a common vision of new, effective and just rules for organizing its life. But these rules must be laid down in a new constitution, not in advertising posters, and the constitution should be changed in the future by three quarters [337] of the votes in parliament, not by two thirds [300],” Tymoshenko said in an interview with the online newspaper Ukrainska Pravda.

The new constitution must have mechanisms to defend the citizens’ rights and liberties, not only declare them, as well as mechanisms for citizens to have permanent influence on all branches of authority, not only during an election campaign, she said.

“The new constitution must also ensure the right balance between the branches of authority and offer a mechanism preventing their authoritarian merger into one ‘stick.'” Tymoshenko said.

The constitution must also ensure a working system of fair courts, and also citizens, executives and elected persons’ equal liability before the law. Public television and radio are a must and sealed in the constitution, Tymoshenko said.

Well dear readers, I agree with Ms Tymoshenko that there is a need to change the Constitution of Ukraine…….as does Viktor Yanukovych, Sergiy Tigipko Arseniy Yatensuik and every other runner for President last year.

However, I think the 2/3 majority which has always been the threshold is fairly reasonable whereas 3/4 majority is likely to be completely unattainable when there is a need for further Constitutional change.

The 3/4 majority would put the majority at the mercy of a minority of some fairly obstructive elements, amongst them the communists and the nationalists who are of course literally poles apart……and to be fair, the way Ms Tymoshenko and her party are falling down the opinion polls, it would insure she (and her party) remained relevant in such fundamental decisions, which being cynical as I am, is probably the reason for her call to increase the number of “Yeahs” to number of “Nay’s”.

Still, she is right about the need for Constitutional reforms.


Immigration, Ukraine and the EU.

January 30, 2011

Well dear readers, here are two rather well written articles from the EU Observer which mention Ukraine and the immigration/asylum/terrorist buffer it is about to become for the EU:



VAT Ukraine

January 29, 2011

Well dear readers, probably one of the biggest gripes of corporations in Ukraine, both domestic and foreign, has been the refunding of VAT when it has been appropriate…..and in an export driven economy it is quite often appropriate.

If the following statement by the Prime Minister is true, one of the biggest concerns of international direct investment in Ukraine will seem to be addressed:

The Tax Service of Ukraine from March 1 will be ready to refund the value added tax (VAT) automatically, Prime Minister Mykola Azarov has said.

“For those companies who are willing to operate openly and transparently, tax authorities are ready, literally from March 1, to automatically recover the VAT,” Azarov said. The tax code, which came into force on January 1, 2011, provides for penalties against tax authorities for late VAT refund.

VAT has been of more concern to those who have asked me about investment in Ukraine than corruption.  Let’s hope that VAT is returned in a timely fashion as per the plan.


Rumours of opposition unity…….kinda

January 28, 2011

Well dears readers, only 3 days ago, I wrote of ex-Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko:

“She has to accept the single biggest hurdle to a united opposition is Yulia Tymoshenko herself, so she can call for a united opposition another million times and it still will not happen unless the PoR try install a regime similar to North Korea which simply will not happen.

If she wants to opposition to untie, the only way this will be made possible is if she disappears from opposition politics and she is quite obviously not prepared to do that.

It seems I may turn out to be wrong……or at least half wrong……or possibly half right…..or at least right where she was concerned.

Rumour has it that there are now ongoing negotiations on the formation of a united opposition party between the Front for Change, the Civil Position, the European Party of Ukraine and the Sobor Ukrainian Republican Party…….negotiations notably excluding Ms Tymoshenko and her  Batkivshchina Party.

Hardly a surprise  Batkivshchina are excluded given her continued involvement with it.


Foreign relations – Turkey and Ukraine

January 27, 2011

Well dear readers, sometimes……….I can be right!

The last few days have seen considerable progress in relations between Ukraine and one of the regions big players, Turkey.

No, really, I did tell you it was necessary, here’s the link:

So what has happened?

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan have signed a joint declaration on the establishment of a high-level strategic council between Ukraine and Turkey.

A total of six documents were signed as a result of Erdogan’s visit to Ukraine, including an agreement between the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine and the Government of Turkey on setting up an international direct freight rail-ferry service, a memorandum of understanding in the energy sector between the Energy and Coal Industry Ministry of Ukraine and the Energy and Natural Resources Ministry of Turkey, and a cooperation program between Ukraine’s state inspectorate for nuclear regulation and Turkey’s state agency for nuclear energy, a correspondent of Interfax-Ukraine reported.

They also signed a program on the implementation of a memorandum of intent on cooperation in technical regulation, standardization, metrology, conformity assessment and consumer protection, as well as an agreement on cooperation between Ukraine’s Ukrinform government news agency and a Turkish news agency.

…….and possibly more importantly…….
Prime Minister of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said he hopes that an agreement on a free trade zone will be signed with Ukraine this year.

“I believe that an agreement on a free trade zone will be passed by our parliament and this year all of the needed signatures will be obtained. Of course, we want to do everything simultaneously [with Ukraine],” the Turkish premier said at a joint press conference with Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych in Kyiv on Tuesday.

Sometimes I think you people should be paying more my drivel……because it’s accurate.


Yatseniuk – National Constitutional Assembly resolution

January 26, 2011

Well dear readers, Arseniy Yatseniuk, leader of Front for Change is to submit a resolution for form a National Constitution Assembly to the RADA.

The chances of this happening are actually quite high and I am led to believe that the President is very much in favour of such a body.

How this entity will be formed, by way of constitutional lawyers, politicians, academics etc I have no idea, but it is quite likely to have a broad spectrum of backgrounds within it.  As yet I have not been able to find the resolution that has been submitted to the RADA to look at the finer points.

Is it to be created to act as a mediator or oversight panel over the Constitution Courts?  That may well be unconstitutional.

Is it to act as a localised Venice  Commission regarding any proposed constitutional changes?

The Constitution itself was written in a way that makes it almost impossible to change the Constitution without significant political will (far exceeding the current majority by way of RADA vote) and public referendum.

In many ways, it is a reasonable proposal depending on firstly its remit and secondly its effectiveness.

What it will do, if passed, will show an “opposition party” getting the support for legislative measures from the party of the current government and allow both Front for Change and PoR to claim some form of political victory at the expense of Ms Tymoshenko’s party.  FoC can claim to be the most effective opposition party whilst PoR can claim that an opposition party has come up with a resolution to the benefit of the country and it has whole-heartedly supported it…..unlike the party of Yulia Tymoshenko who never come up with any policy other than disagreement for the sake of disagreement.

That, at least, is how I would spin it if I was FoC or PoR.  The problem would be the effectiveness once it was created as generating an ineffective and therefore pointless body will not be seen as anything worthwhile.

Let’s see how this resolution progresses.


Transniestria – No-mans land with people

January 25, 2011

Well dear readers, about an hours drive west from me lies the quasi-official region called Transniestria.  It is a political thorn in the side of Russia, Ukraine, Moldova and the EU, as this article in the EU Observer shows:

A problem that seems destined to continue for many more years yet.


More calls for the “Opposition” to unite

January 24, 2011

Well dear readers, during “Unity Day” former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who had led the calls for a public rally……and will have no doubt been disappointed that only a few thousand people turned up…….called for opposition parties to unite……again (and for about the hundredth time)

“There is no such thing as Ukrainians from Donetsk and Lviv, or Ukrainians from Crimea,” she said. “You should forget such words. There are Ukrainians who today, from this square, are setting a target to change the rules and the way of life with which we’re not satisfied.”

Strong words from a woman who lost, less than a year ago, a presidential election after several years in power and was subject to a decision from the public which in effect stated “we’re not satisfied” with her past performance.

For a politician who is so western leaning, she seems to learn nothing from the west.

It is hard to find many examples where a western ex-Prime Minister has been voted out of office and the not taken a back seat in their party, if not retiring from politics altogether.

Generally when you have been in power and then loose an election removing you from power, it is taken as a strong hint you were either useless, underachieved in a big way or are simply not up to the job in the eyes of the majority.

Invariably this would mean re-branding of the loosing party at the expense of the leaders “head”, so it can emerge as something “different” and claim lessons have been learned.

Unfortunately, on Big Politics some months ago, she conceded that even if her party removed her as leader she would not disappear from the political scene and create a different party (and she certainly has accumulated enough funds through the opaque world of gas trading she was involved in, prior to and during her early political career).

As I have said more times than I can remember here, parties like Yatseniuk’s Front for Change will not unite with her as they do not want to be tarred with the same brush as her or be associated with her rhetoric and misleading statements.

This refusal automatically removes 7% of her vote making it almost impossible for her to win against the PoR as she needs the entire vote of all of the opposition parties to stand a chance.

She has to accept the single biggest hurdle to a united opposition is Yulia Tymoshenko herself, so she can call for a united opposition another million times and it still will not happen unless the PoR try  install a regime similar to North Korea which simply will not happen.

If she wants to opposition to untie, the only way this will be made possible is if she disappears from opposition politics and she is quite obviously not prepared to do that.

Whilst she may consider herself the current governments biggest threat, she is actually their biggest blessing as she is so polarising even the opposition parties will not untie behind her.

There is a reason most politicians in the west take a back seat or retire from politics completely when they have been defeated, and that is for the greater good of their party and the political ideal that goes with it.

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