Yushchenko Seeks Compromise With Parliament

KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukraine's parliament will hold a joint session with President Viktor Yushchenko and his Cabinet aimed at finding compromise after lawmakers last week decided to sack the government in a dramatic show of no-confidence in the Orange Revolution leader.

President Yushchenko (L) with Prime Minister Yekhanurov

Yushchenko's office said the joint session, scheduled for Jan. 19, was agreed to Jan 17 after consultations with Parliament Speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn, who won wide respect for his mediation efforts during the 2004 presidential election crisis.

Lytvyn has said the lawmakers' decision to sack the government, while allowing it to keep working until parliamentary elections in March, was a warning to

Yushchenko that his government was not living up to its responsibilities.

The dismissal came after an angry dispute with Moscow over the price of gas, which resulted in a nearly twofold increase in the price that Ukraine must pay for a mix of Russian and Central Asian gas. Critics warn that the rise could severely hurt Ukraine's export-driven economy, which has remained competitive largely due to cheap energy costs.

The government's dismissal didn't appear to paralyze its work, but did leave the president looking severely weakened and increasingly isolated. That is a dangerous position ahead of the March 26th elections, which could determine whether Ukraine continues on its pro-western course.

Yushchenko has called the parliament's decision to fire his government unconstitutional and demanded it be rescinded. That, however, looks unlikely to happen.

While the announcement of the joint session indicated Yushchenko was pushing dialogue, there was no sign he had softened his view about the lawmakers' action. In his statement, Yushchenko called on political leaders to "show respect to the constitution and the law, and to be guided by, above all, national interests."

The joint session will include Prime Minister Yuriy Yekhanurov and the rest of the Cabinet, the president's office said.

Source: AP