Yulia Tymoshenko AIMS To Be Ukraine’s Answer To Thatcher

LONDON, UK -- Any day now, depending on the outcome of the coalition talks, Yulia Tymoshenko will return as Ukraine’s prime minister or emerge as its power broker.

Ukraine's beautiful "Iron Lady"

When she was interviewed in London, she was in high spirits and revealed she thinks highly of Margaret Thatcher. “I have Margaret Thatcher as my model”, she says.

This she presumably hopes will help reassure investors. When she was prime minister, Tymoshenko demanded a review of the privatisations carried out in dodgy circumstances during the reign of Leonid Kuchma, the former president.

At the time this was interpreted as an attack on private property. The new Mrs T says her policy was misunderstood.

“As a result of the severe political struggle between the old system and the new Orange team, the mass media published lots of myths about re-privatisations, nationalisation and price-fixing.

All of these things I would like to say are absurd, we want to pursue none of these things,” she says.

Any disputes over the legitimacy of past privatisations – some were at discounted prices to friends of the previous regime ­– will be determined by the courts, she says.

“Before the Orange Revolution we had an absolutely post-Soviet state with all the post-Soviet rules,” she says. There was “corruption, clans, unpredictability, helplessness, absence of an effective courts system, absolute bias and a lack of independence of the mass media.

To understand the importance of the Orange Revolution one needs to have lived in that period. The Orange Revolution has changed Ukraine absolutely.”

She wants to restart free-­market reforms. “My government managed to abolish more than 5,000 regulatory acts which were creating terrible conditions for corruption in businesses. Under my government, the only transparent, honest privatisation took place.

We would like to continue these policies.” She assured me she will continue to privatise Ukraine’s strategic industries, starting with the communications sector, slash duties and tariffs; remove barriers to foreign banks and insurance companies and reform the judiciary.

Earlier this year, to punish the country for the Orange Revolution, Russian President Vladimir Putin hiked the price Ukraine pays for gas; he briefly switched off supplies, which also affected Europe.

“Ukraine respects Russia as its neighbour, as a political partner, but the question of energy independence for Ukraine is issue number one. The reason why it hasn’t been solved is that there was no political will from political authorities.”

She wants to attract foreign investors to help rebuild the oil and gas sectors, to integrate Ukraine’s electricity network into Europe’s, to burn more coal and less gas, build new pipe­lines and make nuclear power stations safer.

“The reason why I came to London before the government is being formed is to meet world investors to organise this dialogue.”

Talks between Ukraine’s parties have been going on since the elections on 26 March. A new Orange coalition is most likely. It would be led by the Tymoshenko bloc and include Viktor Yushchenko’s Our Ukraine and the Socialists.

“For the second time, the population has voted for a European orientation, the European vector of policy, for integration in world markets,” she says.

Tymoshenko acknowledges the long negotiations “could look to some like instability or disorder but this I can assure you is not the case. All this testifies that a rapid and intense transformation is going on.

Ukraine today is the Poland or the Czech Republic of the 1990s. All ways are open to us.”

Source: The Business Online