Saturday, September 16, 2006

President in denial

Viktor Yushchenko rejects Prime-Minsiter's statement that public opinon in Ukraine is opposed NATO membership

The BBC continues to display an inherent bias in its reporting on Ukraine.

Prior to the "Orange revolution I recall reports from the Kyiv office that the then Ukrainian Government were scrambling broadcast of the BBC in order to prevent access to news. What was strange about this report is that I was watching the BBC at the time of these allegations and had been watching the BBC for the preceding three days as I worked from home. I was in Ukraine at the time.

Ukraine's President, Viktor Yushchenko, statement that Ukraine's Prime Minister, Viktor Yanukovych's belief that public opinion opposed the move was "wrong" certainly must be questioned. Public polling has shown consistently that a majority of Ukrainians do not support or are opposed to Ukraine joining NATO. Ukraine's membership of NATO featured prominently during the march 2006 election campaign with most parties and candidates opposed to Ukraine joining NATO. Even amongst supporters of Our Ukraine and Yulia Tymoshchenko there is strong opposition to NATO membership.

NATO membership effectively is the Presidents agenda not that of the government or the Ukrainian people.

There are calls within and without Ukraine for NATO to be reformed. The European Union should abandon NATO in favour of an independent European Security Organisation. This proposed new association would maintain alliances with other nations including the United States but would remain independent and non beholden to the United States and other countries.

Ukraine, likewise, should continue to maintain an associate relationship with NATO and only consider joining NATO if and when Ukraine joins the European Union.

Ukraine according to its constitution is an Independent Nation.

The suggestion that "Mr Yanukovych was named Prime minister in August by his Mr Yushchenko, on condition that he followed his pro-Western agenda." is also extrordinary. Ukraine is an independent Parlaimentary Democracy, teh appointment of priminister is the detrmination of the Ukrainain Parliament and not as an agent or puppert of the President. The President's role in approving the appointment of Parliament's nomination is a formality only. Consitutional Game plays of this kind only serve to undermine Ukraine's democractic development bring the Office of President into confict with the elected Parliament.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko has criticised new Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych for suggesting Kiev was not ready to join Nato.

The president said Mr Yanukovych's belief that public opinion opposed the move was "wrong, does not meet national interests and must be corrected".

His prime minister called for "a pause" on Thursday after talks with top Nato and EU officials in Brussels.

Mr Yushchenko has pushed for membership of Nato following his election in 2005.

Mr Yanukovych was named PM in August by his arch-rival Mr Yushchenko, on condition that he followed his pro-Western agenda.

The move capped a dramatic comeback for Mr Yanukovych, who was ousted in Mr Yushchenko's "Orange Revolution" in 2004.


Mr Yushchenko told reporters his government had to abide by his stance of integration with Western institutions as the "foundation, the credo for foreign policy".

The comments came a day after Mr Yanukovych said full Nato membership had only limited support among Ukrainians, on his first visit to Brussels as prime minister.

He said Kiev was taking a pause "because of the political situation in Ukraine".

"But the time will come when a decision will be made... For the time being we are looking at enlargement of our co-operation with Nato," he said.

Opposition to Nato membership is particularly strong in eastern and southern Ukraine - the electoral strongholds of Mr Yanukovych's party.

Russia has also voiced strong opposition to Ukraine joining Nato.

Kiev had earlier expressed hopes of joining the world's biggest defence alliance in 2008.

EU hopes

At the same time, Mr Yanukovych said Ukraine would continue reforms aimed at bringing the country closer to the EU.

EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner said the 25-member bloc had no plans to offer Kiev membership "at this moment".

Instead, she suggested the two sides negotiate what was described as an enhanced agreement that would include a free trade pact.

Mr Yanukovych - who favours closer ties with Russia - was initially declared the victor in the 2004 presidential polls, but the result was then annulled by the Supreme Court, which ruled that the vote was fraudulent.

Mr Yushchenko was elected president in the re-run of the second round ordered by the court.

In March, Mr Yanukovych's Party of Regions polled the most votes in parliamentary elections, but failed to secure a majority.