Friday, September 22, 2006

Rudderless Ship

KIEV, Ukraine -- Last Friday, Sept. 15, President Viktor Yushchenko had a long chat with Premier Viktor Yanukovych, at which Yushchenko voiced his concern about the actions of the new cabinet, saying it must abide by the National Unity Pact signed between the president and the Rada majority.

President Viktor Yushchenko

In a briefing later that day Yushchenko said he gave Yanukovych his first political warning and confirmed there is a joint plan to correct the situation. We shall see if this happens.

Yushchenko described Yanukovych’s attempt to revise foreign policy at his recent meeting at NATO headquarters as unacceptable.

The previous day Yanukovych had called for a pause in plans to join NATO, but said Ukraine would continue efforts to join the EU.

Yushchenko said the opposite, reiterating that the country’s goal to join the EU and NATO would not change.

The mixed messages are a problem.

Yushchenko, not surprisingly, was supported by Defense Minister Anatoliy Hrytsenko and Foreign Minister Boris Tarasiuk, two of his appointees.

Hrytsenko said Ukraine will implement the NATO membership Action Plan despite Yanukovych's statements, while Tarasiuk said Yanukovych has no authority to formulate foreign policy.

Yanukovych’s argument that the people do not support NATO membership is weak because the issues have not been explained. However, that’s not the point.

Ever since Yanukovych became premier he has, with the help of the speaker, been pushing the president aside.

Most people believed that, in line with constitutional reform, foreign policy is the president’s remit. But now this doesn't seem to be so.

In practical terms, membership of NATO comes before EU membership. This was certainly the case for countries like Poland.

So who's leading the country now? It seems like a ship without a captain.

There is also a real danger that foreign policy will just stagnate and the country will go nowhere.

Source: Kyiv Post

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