Ultima Thule

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Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Tymoshenko calls for urgent coalition agreement with former Orange allies

By Aussiegirl

The latest from the Kyiv Post on the aftermath of the Ukrainian parliamentary elections. Who will Viktor choose -- Yulia -- or Yanukovych? The outcome will determine Ukraine's future. I don't like the suggestion that "Western" advisers are advising a coalition with Yanukovych because of his alliance with powerful tycoons. This will just lead Ukraine along the same ruinous path of globalization and corruption that is destroying the rest of the world -- and those "tycoons" will de facto run the country any way they like. Ukraine will become a mini-Russia, and may fall into Russia's sphere again. Yulia is the best choice, even though I don't trust her either.

Kyiv Post. Tymoshenko calls for urgent coalition agreement with former Orange allies

Ukraine's former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko appealed Wednesday to her estranged Orange Revolution allies to urgently revive their partnership, warning that a delay would only benefit their pro-Russian opponent, whose party is trying to negotiate a return to power after defeating the West-leaning forces.

Tymoshenko spoke after key members of President Viktor Yushchenko's party swung their support behind a new Orange Team, calling it the best way to safeguard Ukraine's path toward European integration. The party warned, however, that a final decision would not be made until senior members consider their options on April 7.

"It is absolutely important to create a coalition urgently," said Tymoshenko, whose party came in a surprisingly strong second in Sunday's vote.

Ukraine's new shift to a more parliamentary style system of government has left Yushchenko with few options. With no party winning a majority in the 450-member parliament, a 226-seat majority - charged with choosing the prime minister and most of the Cabinet - can be reached only through a coalition.

The president, whose party came in an embarrassing third place, must now decide whom he wants to govern with: the woman he sacked from the prime minister's job six months ago or pro-Russian Viktor Yanukovych, whose ballot-stuffing attempt to win the 2004 presidency triggered the Orange Revolution.

Yushchenko is coming under increasing pressure from key party members who see a union with the popular Tymoshenko as the best way to revive their party's bleak political situation.

The president - not his party - has the final say in Ukraine's tense coalition talks. But in a statement posted on its website, the party set out severe - and possibly unacceptable - conditions for any cooperation with Yanukovych's Party of the Regions.

Ukrainian Security Council chief Anatoliy Kinakh said that any coalition members "outside of the Orange three," which also includes the Socialists, must agree to confirm Ukraine's pro-Western course, reject the possibility of adopting Russian as a second state language and turn down any calls to transfer significant central government powers to the regions.

The demands could be deal-breakers for the Party of the Regions, which campaigned on calls to make Russian a second state language and which has advocated what it calls a "soft federalism" course. Yanukovych has said he supports European Union membership, but wants to first join a Kremlin-dominated economic union of ex-Soviet republics.

"The priority for us is and will be Ukraine's foreign policy course toward European and Euroatlantic integration, while maintaining good-neighborly relations with Russia and other countries," said Foreign Minister Borys Tarasiuk, according to a party statement.

Yushchenko's bloc is cobbled together from many different groups, which united before the Orange Revolution in opposition to the regime of then-President Leonid Kuchma. Their leaders serve in Yushchenko's government, and many now see their own jobs on the line. There have been indications that some view Tymoshenko as the rising star and are considering staking their own political futures on her.

Tymoshenko said she was worried that some Our Ukraine officials were holding talks with the Party of Regions, which will command the biggest faction in parliament but needs a coalition with Yushchenko to return to power. A senior Western diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity so as not to appear to be influencing internal events in Ukraine, said Yushchenko's closest allies from the business world appeared to be leading the push for a union with Yanukovych, who is backed by powerful tycoons in Ukraine's industrial east.

"For Yushchenko, from a business perspective, it makes sense," said Serhiy Taran of the International Democratic Institute. "He could use some of that support from heavy industry."

But a union with Yanukovych could erode the president's power base, analysts warn. If Yushchenko and Tymoshenko can overcome their falling-out, their parties' combined votes would put their total above Yanukovych's. It remains unclear, however, whether the deep animosity between the two can be overcome.

Yushchenko's party also appeared reluctant to support giving Tymoshenko back the prime minister's job, saying it was not the time to talk "about assigning jobs."

Yanukovych's ally Oleksandr Stoyan called for compromise, but noted it would be impossible for his party to ignore election promises. "Our voters chose us not only due to our leader Yanukovych, but also due to our ideals," he said, adding that the party planned to discuss options at a meeting Thursday.

With nearly 98 percent of the vote counted, Yanukovych's party had about 32 percent, followed by Tymoshenko's bloc with 22 percent and Yushchenko's Our Ukraine with just over 14 percent.


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