EU ready to sign association agreement with Ukraine in 2013 if progress made.
The European Union is ready to sign the association agreement with Ukraine next year if the nation shows progress in a number of areas, including solving the problem of selective justice.
Analysts believe that this incentive, coupled with targeted sanctions, may keep Ukraine away from joining the Russia-dominated Customs Union and from sliding into authoritarianism.
The council of the European Union that consists of the foreign ministers of the EU countries formed on Dec. 10 their conclusions for how to deal with Ukraine after the Oct. 28 parliamentary election.
According to the decision, the EU decided to offer Ukraine another chance to sign the deal in 2013 by showing improvement in three areas – setting up reliable election system together with the opposition, including the adoption of the election code, solve the problem of selective justice, in particular, by implementing rulings of the European Court for Human Rights, and adopt economic reforms needed to prepare the country for establishing free trade area with the EU.
“The council reaffirms its obligation to sign the initialing of the agreement…including the deep and comprehensive free trade agreement, as soon as the Ukrainian government will show decisive action and tangible progress in the three areas mentioned earlier, perhaps before the Eastern Partnership summit in November 2013. The signing may be accompanied by a preliminary effect of individual parts of the agreement,” reads the EU council’s conclusions on Ukraine.
It also called upon Ukraine to improve its “deteriorating business and investment climate.”
The Council referenced the OSCE’s assessment of the parliamentary election, pointing out some irregularities and regression from the previously achieved results.
Previously, one of the prerequisites to signing the agreement was to hold free and fair parliamentary election in October. From the recent decision it is clear that the EU decided to change this point by giving Ukraine’s authorities another chance to improve its election track record through adoption of comprehensive election legislation along with the opposition, eliminating some irregularities that exist in the current election laws.
A number of Ukrainian foreign policy analysts recently called on the EU to sign the association agreement with Ukraine next year out of fear that Kyiv may join the Customs Union with Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus to get cheaper gas from Russia.
Valeriy Chaly, analyst at the Kyiv-based Razumkov Center, told Lb.ua news website that although he welcomes signing of the association agreement between Brussels and Kyiv next fall, it is a rather “optimistic” scenario.
For more than two years since Viktor Yanukovych took over the presidency he has unsuccessfully tried to renegotiate the gas price with Moscow.
Instead Russia has been trying to attract Ukraine into the Customs Union in exchange for lower gas prices, which is strongly needed for Ukraine’s cash-strapped economy.
“The possibility of signing the association agreement with the EU next year may become one of the carrots to keep Ukraine away from the Customs Union,” said political analyst Oleksiy Haran.
He says it would be wrong for the EU to sign the agreement with Ukraine only to discourage the the nation from joining the Customs Union. Instead, he called the recent cancellation of a U.S. visa for Ukraine’s Deputy Prosecutor General Renat Kuzmin a good example of targeted sanctions to not let Ukraine slide further into authoritarianism.
“Such a two-track approach, on the one hand, offering association agreement and, on the other hand, applying some targeted sanction against selected individuals [in Ukraine] may really stop Ukraine from sliding into authoritarianism,” said the analyst.
EU dangles carrot for wayward Ukraine leader.
EU foreign ministers in Brussels said on Monday (10 December) they aim to expand political and economic ties with Ukraine in November next year.An association and free trade agreement between the two has already been initialed, and EU member states said they are prepared to sign the pact at the so called Eastern Partnership summit in Vilnius next November.
With the treaty also needing to be ratified by all 27 member states’ administrations, the Union added that it could already enter into life on a “provisional” basis as soon as the signing takes place.
“The signature could be accompanied by opening for provisional application of parts of the agreement,” the EU foreign ministers said.The EU offer is designed as an incentive for President Viktor Yanukovych to mend his ways after his last two years in power saw backsliding on democratic standards and corruption.
The ministers’ statement did not name Yulia Tymoshenko or Yuriy Lutsenko – leading opposition figures jailed by Yanukovych in what the EU has dubbed as politically motivated trials.But it warned that the treaty signature will not go ahead unless Ukraine meets strict conditions.
“[The EU] expects the authorities to address the cases of politically motivated convictions without delay as well as to take further steps to reform the judiciary to prevent any recurrence,” the ministers said.
They also listed compliance with international parliamentary election standards and close co-operation with the Strasbourg-based human rights watch dog, the Council of Europe, on new laws addressing the role of the prosecutor’s office and the high council of justice.
Ukraine will also have to revamp its criminal codes, reform the police and review laws on the judicial system and the status of judges, the ministers said.
For its part, the Tymoshenko camp has in the past called for EU sanctions on the main protagonists in her jailing.EU diplomats say that sanctions are not under consideration.
But the US has banned Ukraine’s deputy prosecutor general Renat Kuzmin from entering into US territory, AFP reports.Kuzmin, a key figure in the case against Tymoshenko, said on Monday he had been informed by US ambassador John Tefft that his visa was cancelled but “without further explanation.”
Kuzmin had entered the US over the summer to conduct further investigations on Tymoshenko but had not informed or co-ordinated his work with US authorities.
The decision to revoke his visa may also stem from a US resolution passed in September to revoke visas on anyone involved in jailing the opposition leader.
Ban on advertising of over 300 medicines takes effect in Ukraine.
An order of the Health Ministry of Ukraine (No. 876 on the approval of a list of medicine sold without prescriptions that are banned from being advertised) took effect in Ukraine on Dec. 10, 2012, the press service of the ministry has reported.
The ministry said that a total of 327 medicines are on the list, and that it mainly includes cold medicines and anesthetics.
According to the order, the ministry decided to put a medicine on the list if it is sold only under doctors’ prescriptions, if it is for treating only children up to 12 years old, or if the medicine contains drugs, psychotropic substances and precursors.
The medicine could be put on the list if its application could cause addiction to the medicine, which is pointed out in the prescribing information, apart from medicine for external application.
The ministry also puts the medicine on the list if it is used to treat tuberculosis, sexually transmitted diseases, specially dangerous infectious diseases, HIV/AIDS, cancer and other tumors, chronic insomnia, diabetes, obesity and impotence.
Ukraine takes helm as rift deepens between OSCE states.
ANALYSIS: It is perhaps fitting, though not reassuring for the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, that a country on Europe’s east-west fault line is taking the group’s helm at a time when it is deeply divided and struggling for direction.
Ukraine replaces Ireland in the chairman’s seat for 2013, and is charged with launching a drive to refocus, reinvigorate and to some extent reorganise the 57-nation OSCE before 2015, when the organisation will mark 40 years since the signing of the Helsinki Accords that provide its foundation.
At its Dublin summit, the OSCE adopted a “strategic road map” dubbed the Helsinki +40 process, to analyse how the group could be more effective in conflict resolution, arms control, counter-terrorism, border management and a range of other security issues.
But for the second year running, the summit exposed a wide rift between western states led by the US and a collection of ex-Soviet countries grouped around Russia, on matters of human rights, democracy and the protection of free media.
Ukraine, as incoming chairman, must now try and act as a bridge between the two blocs – a fiendishly hard role with which it is uncomfortably familiar.
The country is itself divided along linguistic and political lines, and over a tumultuous decade it has been led by allies of Moscow and ardent pro-westerners. Now, under President Viktor Yanukovich, Kiev says it wants close ties with both Russia and the EU. But at the OSCE – an organisation created to bring together cold war adversaries – it seems that eastern and western camps are drifting ever further apart.
At last year’s summit, the US and Russia sparred over the democratic standards of the latter’s recent election, criticism that Russian leader Vladimir Putin claimed acted as a trigger for major anti-government protests in Moscow.
On the sidelines of the summit in Dublin, US secretary of state Hillary Clinton accused Moscow of trying to “re-Sovietise” its former empire and of cracking down on human rights groups.
Russia and several other ex-Soviet states have long accused the OSCE of unfairly assessing their elections and doing the bidding of western powers, and they urge the group to focus on security matters and to downgrade democracy, rights and press freedom issues.
This seemed to be the thrust of Mr Putin’s comments on the eve of the Dublin summit.
“It is important to intensify co-ordination on the most essential aspects of the organisation’s activities. Unfortunately, the current state of affairs does not inspire optimism,” he said.
“It is time the OSCE stopped taking care of the interests of individual countries and focused on unifying agendas. I hope Ukraine will take up this particular position during its chairmanship.”
Well aware of Russia’s lack of enthusiasm for the OSCE’s human rights and democracy work, Mrs Clinton voiced “a growing concern for the future of this organisation and the values it has always championed” and said the OSCE “must avoid institutional changes that would weaken it and undermine our fundamental commitments”.
Though charged with launching the Helsinki +40 process to “reinforce and revitalise the OSCE”, Ukraine is taking a conservative approach to its chairmanship. It might be the only way to make progress, given the US-Russian impasse on key issues. Foreign minister Kostyantyn Gryshchenko said Ukraine wanted to improve the group’s effectiveness in all major fields . “It is not the fundamentals of the OSCE that need change, but the change is needed for mindsets – from confrontational thinking to a co-operative approach.”
Yum takes KFC brand to Ukraine.
Yum! Brands, owner of the KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell branded fast food chains, is set this month to rollout expansion plans for Ukraine, a vast country of 46m consumers where 74 McDonald’s restaurants are among the group’s busiest globally with no competition yet from traditional rivals.
The US-based group is expected to launch its first KFC restaurant in Ukraine on December 14. Three leading franchisees have been chosen to expand the group’s presence in Ukraine and the nearby region.
People familiar with the group said that more than 100 KFC restaurants at a cost of $2m each could be opened up within five years.
“If you look at the quick service restaurant penetration of Ukraine, it is many times lower compared to nearby Poland and Russia,” said Petro Matiaszek, senior vice-president of US-based Global Restaurant Group, one of the franchise partners chosen by Yum! Brands.
“If you are going to bring another quick service restaurant into a country that only has McDonald’s, then it’s got to be KFC. In the future, we want to bring other international brands into Ukraine as well,” he added.
Yuriy Kosyuk, chief executive of London-listed MHP, Ukraine’s leading poultry producer, said his company was negotiating to become a supplier for KFC’s expanding business in Ukraine and abroad.
Ukraine and Lithuania: common cultural space.
Catalog of the exhibition “Portraits of Grand Dukes and Lithuanian Nobles from Ukrainian Museums” was presented in Bandinelli Palace in Lviv.
Lviv museum employees carry on the tradition of Boris Woznicki building inter-ethnic cultural bridges. Just like Woznicki first presented Johann Georg Pinzel to Europe, the joint project of the museums in Ukraine and Lithuania “Portraits of Grand Dukes and Lithuanian Nobles from Ukrainian Museums” presents half-forgotten artistic artifacts to the world. These are the portraits of historical figures, who at one time played a special role in the political life of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, had an impact on the fate of the half of the Ukrainian lands. The funds of the Ukrainian museums preserve a significant number of portraits from the 17th century with images of the nobles from the Chodkiewicz, Radziwill, Sanguszko, Sapieha, and Wisniowiecki families, as well as the Doctor of Philosophy and Medicine Paul Boim. It all is reflected in the catalog.
The catalog has been published by the organizers of the exhibition – the National Museum “Palace of Grand Dukes of Lithuania” and the Lithuanian Art Museum. “This exhibition became the most striking confirmation of a successful development of cultural ties between the two nations. It demonstrates the common cultural heritage and history of Lithuania and Ukraine and the links of the lingering historical memory,” was written in the letter from Arunas Gelunas, Minister of Culture of the Republic of Lithuania, and Mykhailo Kulyniak, Minister of Culture of Ukraine.
The exhibition presented 86 portraits. Thirteen restorers have worked on them for two months so that the faces of the common ancestors could tell the audience about the common fragment of history of Ukraine and Lithuania. “We are united around the idea of serving for the good of the common history. We should make the history alive by showing common heritage,” believes Jolanta Karpaviciene, deputy director of the National Museum “Palace of Grand Dukes of Lithuania” and the head of the delegation. A Lithuanian poet of the 17th century once said: “The countries are recognized by the faces of their rulers.” This quote has become the motto of the exhibition. During four months the exhibition was held in Vilnius over 11,000 people have visited it.
“Lithuania started speaking Ukrainian,” said Karpaviciene. For the first time in the history of cultural relations between the people of Lithuania and Poland the catalog was published in three languages. “Museum, artifacts, paintings, restoration works, and preservation are the terms well-understood in the circles of museum specialists in Ukrainian, Russian, and Lithuanian,” director of the Lviv Historical Museum Bohdan Chaikovsky drew some parallels. “These are the key terms at the presentation of the catalog.”
Ukraine was represented at the event by the Lviv Historical Museum, Lviv National Art Gallery, and Volyn Museum of Regional Ethnography. The museums transferred 20 female portraits, 62 male portraits, and four portraits of kids to the Art Museum of Lithuania for temporal exhibit.
Ihor Khomyn, chief curator of the funds of the Lviv National Art Gallery wrote in the catalog: “From an artistic point of view, the best portraits of all presented at the exhibition are the ones of the Polish kings and the Grand Dukes of Lithuania.” First of all, these are the portraits of Sigismund III Vasa, Michal Korybut Wisniowiecki, August III, and Stanislaw August Poniatowski.
“The level of printing quality is high, it was acknowledged by the fact that the catalog was nominated for the National Award of Lithuania,” the coordinator of the exhibition Taras Rudko said.
The museums do not draw a final line in such cross-cultural cooperation; on the contrary, they want to continue the positive work. Lviv Historical Museum invites you to an exhibition of the portraits to see the priceless artifacts for yourself after they come back from Vilnius.
Izvestia in Ukraine named FEAM best media project 2012.
The Izvestia in Ukraine newspaper has become the winner of the competition for the FEAM best media project-2012, BelTA has learnt.
The winner was named at the closing plenary session of the Seventh Forum of European and Asian Media 2012 in Minsk.
According to the FEAM-2012 organizers, seven projects partook in the competition. The best works were selected by the members of the Club of Editors-in-Chief of the CIS, Baltic States and Georgia. The voting was held in two stages, with two projects, from Belarus and Ukraine, reaching the final.
Minsk is hosting the seventh annual Forum of European and Asian Media titled Integration Processes in the Post-Soviet Space and New Media on 9-12 December. Partaking in the event are more than 200 heads of the leading media outlets from the CIS, Baltic states and Georgia.
The first Forum of CIS and Baltic Mass Media was held on the initiative of RIA Novosti in Moscow in December 2006. In 2009 it acquired its present name – the Forum of European and Asian Media. The two previous forums were held in Kyiv and Astana in 2010 and 2011 respectively.
Ukraine. For the last 9 months foreign trade balance of agricultural production has increased by almost 64%.
During last years the Agriculture has become the main branch in the State economy. Due to reforms implementation it has been possible to raise indexes in many sectors. According to 2012 figures the production of agricultural gross output may be UAH 222.2 milliard. And the budget income may be UAH 42.2 milliard. This was announced at the annual final press conference by Mykola Prysyazhnyuk, the Minister of the Agrarian Policy and Food of Ukraine.
Taking into consideration the world situation, it is not an overstatement to say that the agriculture is the main branch in the State economy. This is really an engine of domestic economy. Undeniable fact is that agriculture increases the GDP, enriches the State Budget and positively influences the external accounts”, the Minister said.
The Minister has emphasized that the adopted reforms had given the base and powerful impetus to agricultural industry development.
“During 2012 and previous years the Ministry of the Agrarian Policy and Food of Ukraine has gradually implemented reforms provided by the Economic Reforms Programme of the President of Ukraine. And this has given its result. It is planned to receive UAH 222.2 milliard of the agricultural gross output. The mean annual rate in 2009-2011 was UAH 208.8 milliard. In comparison with these figures the increase is obvious”, Mykola Prysyazhnyuk informed.
The Minister has also mentioned that the agriculture continuous to enrich the State Budget and the incomes are bigger every year.
“According to 2012 figures it is planned to receive UAH 42.2 milliard. The mean annual rate in 2009-2011 was UAH 33.2 milliard”, the Minister said.
The minister has also emphasized that the agricultural production traditionally takes a considerable part in the export of Ukraine during last years. This is the only industry that has a positive balance of freeing trade.
“For the nine months of 2012 the foreign balance is 6.8 million US dollars. It has increased by almost 64% against last year. The external economic turnover is almost 18 milliard US dollars. This is 16% of Ukraine’s external economic turnover. This year we have the turnover almost 30% more against last year”, Mykola Prysyazhnyuk summed up.
Bulgaria’s Prista Oil to Build Plant in Ukraine.
Prista Oil, Bulgaria’s largest automobile and industrial lubricant-maker, will build the first waste lubricant recycling plant in Ukraine in the spring of 2013.
The news was announced Tuesday by Mikola Baltaji, Ukrainian Ambassador to Bulgaria, during a meeting with Stefko Burdzhiev, District Governor of the Danube city of Ruse, where Prista Oil is headquartered.
The Ukrainian diplomat went to Ruse on a working visit and he met with Burdzhev, and his two deputies, Vesko Marinov, and Andrian Raykov.
According to reports of Darik radio, the Ukrainian government has approved the construction of the waste lubricant recycling plant and the facility is expected to bring economic and environmental benefits for the country.
During the talks, the Ukrainian Ambassador expressed the country’s interest in improving navigation on the Danube, adding that a company based in Izmail could secure the river dredging and the deepening of the waterways.
The step could help make the Danube navigable all year long.
Despite not being an EU Member State, Ukraine voiced willingness to cooperate with Bulgarian authorities, and the District Administration of Ruse in particular, on the Danube Strategy.
Business cooperation with the Danube city of Ruse will be facilitated through the newly created Bulgarian-Ukrainian Business Chamber, which has already received numerous queries from Ukrainian companies concerning partnership opportunities with Bulgarian firms.
The Ruse District Administration suggested that Ukrainian ships could stop and have a tour around Ruse in a bid to increase tourist flows.
Ambassador Mikola Baltaji made clear he expected an increase of nearly 20% in Ukrainian tourists to Bulgaria, given that in 2011 the country was visited by 250 000 Ukrainian nationals.
Meanwhile, bilateral trade between Bulgaria and Ukraine totaled USD 1.7 – 1.8 B in 2011, but the level is expected to drop to around USD 1 B in 2012 due to the crisis.
The Ukrainian diplomat extended an invitation on behalf of the Governor of Odessa Oblast for a visit by a delegation from Ruse.
The visit will most likely take place in the spring of 2013 and will include business representatives.
To demonstrate Ukrainians’ serious plans to participate in projects of Bulgarian district and municipal administrations, Ruse was given a modern bus to use in its public transport.
The bus was made at the Lviv Bus Factory, which plans to open a plant in Bulgaria’s northern city of Gabrovo.
EU expects ‘determined action’ from Ukraine.
EU ministers adopted yesterday (10 December) a rather long text on the Union’s relations with Ukraine, leaving options open for the holding of a bilateral summit and for signing the association agreement in 2013, provided that they see “determined action” in a number of areas, including “progress in addressing the issue of selective justice”.
EU ministers state that the future of Ukraine’s EU relations will depend on progress in three main areas: the compliance of the 2012 parliamentary elections’ with international standards and follow-up actions, Ukraine’s progress in addressing the issue of selective justice and preventing its recurrence, and the implementation of the reforms defined in the jointly agreed Association Agenda.
With regard to the parliamentary election held on 28 October, ministers note with “concern” that the poll had presented a mixed picture with several shortcomings and constituted a deterioration in several areas compared to standards previously achieved.This vision apparently contrasts with the reading of the Ukrainian authorities.
Kostiantyn Yelisieiev, the Ukrainian ambassador in Brussels, said last month that his country had “passed the test” with the parliamentary elections, held on 28 October.
He admitted that not everything had been perfect with the election, but insisted that they should be considered by the EU as fair, as results largely coincided with opinion polls. A proof of the free choice of people was that two new political forces were able to enter parliament, he said.
However, the EU has not yet given its final assessment on the elections and ministers stress they are expecting the final report of the specialised body of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and that they would look into the way how Ukraine addresses the observed shortcomings.
Regarding “selective justice”, a diplomatic term referring to the treatment of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko and her Interior Minister Yuri Lutsenko, both of whom are serving prison terms, the ministers state that they expect the authorities to address the cases of politically motivated convictions “without delay” as well as to take “further steps to reform the judiciary to prevent any recurrence”.
Regarding the various reforms under the jointly agreed Association Agenda, the ministers stress the need not only to adopt reforms and new legislation, but stress the importance of their effective implementation. EU ministers also deplore the “deteriorating business climate” in Ukraine and stress the importance of “inclusive reforms through constructive engagement between government, parliamentary opposition and civil society”.
On the basis of “tangible progress” in the three areas mentioned, ministers reaffirm their commitment to sign the Association Agreement, including a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA).The text of the 906-pages Association Agreement was recently leaked to the media and published in BlogActiv.
Ministers also appear to indicate that options are open for holding a EU-Ukraine summit, before the November 2013 Vilnius Summit of the Eastern Partnership, under the Lithuanian presidency of the EU.The last EU-Ukraine summit was held in December 2011. No bilateral summit took place in 2012, marking a low point in relations.
Ministers called on Ukraine to refrain from introducing measures contrary to the DCFTA, such as protectionist recycling fees on vehicles, which they said are potentially in breach of the country’s WTO commitments.
Ministers also confirmed its commitment to the “shared objective” of visa-free travel in due course “provided that conditions for well-managed and secure mobility set out in the Action Plan on Visa Liberalisation are in place”.
Mission of Ukraine to the EU said in a statement:
“Ukraine has taken note of the conclusions of the EU Foreign Affairs Council on Ukraine adopted on 10 December 2012 which are important for further development of relations between Ukraine and the European Union based on political association and economic integration.
The recognition by the European Union of the European aspirations and European choice of our country is important. European integration remains a strategic priority of the foreign policy and a guideline for comprehensive political, economic and social reforms in Ukraine.
Ukraine welcomes the EU’s commitment to sign the Association Agreement which is in the interest of both parties.”
Ukraine flirts with Russian-led Customs Union.
Russia’s ex-President Dmitry Medvedev (R), Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev (C) and Belarus’ President Alexander Lukashenko attend a summit of the Customs Union among Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus in Moscow’s Kremlin, on Dec. 9, 2010. The Kremlin has so far unsuccessfully tried to persuade Ukraine to join, but now there are signs that President Viktor Yanukovych may soon make an overture to now-Russia President Vladimir Putin later this month in Moscow.
It might not be a radical shift in foreign policy yet, but there are plenty of indicators that Ukraine is going to making an overture towards joining the Russia-led Customs Union soon.
President Viktor Yanukovych is set to travel to Moscow on Dec. 17-18, and is expected to make a new offer to President Vladimir Putin – most likely something in between full membership alongside Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan, and the 3+1 scheme that Ukraine has suggested before.
Unaffordable gas prices on Russian imports are, as usual, the impetus for trying to cozy up to the Kremlin. Yanukovych has been unable to bring down those gas prices much since coming to power in 2010, a year before his defeated presidential rival, Yulia Tymoshenko, went to prison for what the administration has called a ruinous 2009 gas deal with Russia she brokered as prime minister.
Yanukovych, along with other senior officials, have made numerous statements about “looking East” in recent months. During both of his latest foreign trips – to Kazakhstan in early December and the current one to India – Yanukovych has said Ukraine is bound to lose out if it ignores the giant trade organization led by Russia.
In a recent interview to The Hindu newspaper, Yanukovych said Ukraine has already moved beyond just talk.
“We’re currently harmonizing our laws, rules and regulations with those of the Customs Union,” the newspaper quoted him as saying. “It’s a long road but if we don’t do it, our producers will face discrimination and lose the market. Time will show how far we will go in integrating with the Customs Union.”
But Western diplomats are saying Ukraine may still be bluffing.
“The Customs Union still seems to be Ukraine’s bluff. In order to join the union there needs to be all kinds of legal and normative adjustments made by Ukraine. And as we know none of this work is underway in the Ukrainian government,” said a Western diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
However, the current plan doesn’t seem to be full membership in the Customs Union but rather some form of cooperation that would stop short of Ukraine signing the statutory documents of the super-state organization.
Iryna Akimova, deputy head of the president’s administration and a key economic adviser, said in a recent TV talk show that it was the economic part of the agreement Ukraine would like to join.
“To develop the country, to develop the markets for our export-oriented economy, we have to make friends and work, in the good sense of the word, with everyone. But this does not mean a change in the political vector,” she told Inter channel’s Velyka Polityka talk show on Dec. 7.
In their public statements, both Akimova and Yanukovych have stressed that Ukraine’s trade turnover with Russia and the former Soviet Union stands at $60 billion, while the turnover with Europe amounts to $15 billion less. They conclude that the risk of losing the Eastern markets and not gaining the Western markets are too high.
But would Russia react well to Ukraine’s offer of partial integration? The most likely answer is “no.”
So far, Russia has at best ignored Ukraine’s offer of the so-called 3+1 initiative by Ukraine, which offered to give a special privileged status to members of the union, but would not accept membership. Sergei Glazev, President Vladimir Putin’s aide, also said recently that Russia expects to see Ukraine as a full member of the Customs Union by 2015.
In Ukraine, Viktor Medvedchuk, a strongly pro-Kremlin politician with strong personal ties to Putin, also said that Ukraine will join the union by 2015.
Putin himself has in the past waved a carrot in front of Ukraine, saying it would buy gas at “domestic prices” should it join the CU. And it seems that those gas prices are what triggered the new round of discussions within Ukraine about the format of joining the Customs Union.
The nation paid more than $850 million for Russian gas imported in November at $430 per 1,000 cubic meters. In his interview to The Hindu, Yanukovych said the price is unbearable.“We just don’t have the money to pay for Russian gas almost $200 more than what Europeans pay,” he said.
Akimova also indicated that Ukraine expects some economic perks from a closer relationship with the Customs Union.
“Cooperation with the Customs Union could give us additional credit resources, and without the involvement of political issues,” she said.
Ukraine needs external financing badly. Its current trade balance is deeply in the red, the economy shrank by 1.3 percent in the third quarter, and more than $10 billion of external payments are due next year. At the same time, a lifeline from the International Monetary Fund is nowhere in sight. Negotiations with the fund will only start in late January.
A full membership in the union, however, would require a change to the Constitution, for which the ruling Party of Regions has no support. However, a new national referendum law has paved the way for amending the constitution by public vote.
One official from the president’s administration, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to comment on the issue, said that so far, there is no plan to use it to approve membership in the Customs Union. “This is like a nuclear weapon. It’s better to have it, but never to use it,” he said.
Some Western analysts are amazed that Ukraine would favor the Customs Union over a free-trade pact with the European Union.
“The Customs Union will kill EU free trade: Do you want a Customs Union with a $2 trillion a year economy or do you want to go to the largest economy in the world, (representing) some $15 trillion to $16 trillion a year?” asked former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Steven Pifer at the Kyiv Post Tiger Conference.
Lukashenko: Economic benefits for Ukraine from Eurasian integration.
Ukraine will get sizeable economic benefits from Eurasian integration. President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko made the relevant statement at the meeting with members of the Club of editors-in-chief of the CIS states, Baltic states, and Georgia on 11 December, BelTA has learned.
“Since my meeting with Viktor Fedorovich [Yanukovich, the President of Ukraine] I have felt that he understands the fact that Ukraine loses a lot these days by being outside the economic union,” said Alexander Lukashenko.
“And we want you to be with us. You don’t have to accede to anything, don’t have to pay for it, but you will get more profits,” remarked the Belarusian head of state.
The President underlined that they do not talk about politics in the integration association of Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Russia. “It is an economic community. We don’t talk about politics. If you tell Nursultan Abishevich [Nazarbayev, the President of Kazakhstan] that it will be a political union, tomorrow he will tell you no! Political unity and the creation of redundant agencies is not the idea these days. Economy is the key,” said the head of state.
“I know what Kazakhstan needs in the Customs Union today: pipes, railways, and the rest should be usable by everyone. The same is true for us. The same is true for you. The free flow of commodities is also important for you,” remarked the President. “You will gain $10-20 billion per annum thanks to that. Your production sector will start working and you will be free even to sell the pipes Russia makes to Russia because supplies cannot be blocked. What can you lose? Nothing”.
“Make these steps, tiny ones, look around. You will see that you have not lost your independence. Let’s make another step then,” said Alexander Lukashenko.
“We are very interested in seeing our Slavonic sister there,” stressed the Belarus President.
Vienna Insurance Group Forms Coordination Board In Ukraine To Control Its 4 Insurers.
Vienna Insurance Group (Vienna, Austria), which controls four insurance companies in Ukraine (Ukrainian Insurance Group, Kniazha, Globus, Jupiter Life Insurance Vienna Insurance Group), has formed a board for coordinating work of these insurers, Gary Mazzotti, an advisor to director-general of Vienna Insurance Group for the affairs of Ukraine has announced at a press conference in the press center of Ukrainian News Agency.
“Today we announce creation of a Vienna Insurance Group board in Ukraine,” he said.
Apart from coordination of the Group companies’ work, the board will be responsible for determining VIG development strategy in Ukraine, optimizing collaboration of the Group companies, and interchange of experience.
Pavlo Nelha (Chief Executive Officer, Ukrainian Insurance Group insurance company) has been appointed chairman of the coordination board, on the board are also Volodymyr Hanchak (Chief Executive Officer, Globus insurance company), Dmytro Hrytsuta (Chief Executive Officer, Kniazha VIG insurance company) and Ruslan Vasiutin (Chief Executive Officer, Jupiter Life Insurance Vienna Insurance Group insurance company).
Pavlo Nelha says the board is an informal body, whose decisions will be recommendation for the Group companies.
Vienna Insurance Group sticks to the so-called multi-brand corporate strategy in Ukraine, on purpose not merging its assets but via the four insurers offering clients the widest range of products and services.
Ukraine should abandon huge support for traditional energy, focus on renewable – EREF president.
Ukraine should abandon multi-million support for traditional energy generation, which still has a dominating position in the country and should make its choice in favor of renewable sources of energy, according to President of the European Renewable Energies Federation (EREF) Rainer Hinrichs-Rahlwes.
“The traditional energy sector still enjoys huge financial support both here and around the world… If we look at a report by the International Energy Agency, we’ll see that aid to traditional types of energy in 2011 was six times higher than support of renewable energy – these are EUR 540 billion and EUR 85 billion respectively,” he said during a visit to Ukraine on Friday.
Hinrichs-Rahlwes said that subsidies to conventional energy are often allocated for quite subjective reasons. “The coal sector in many countries, including Germany, is still receiving support because of concerns about employment,” he said.
At the same time, he added, the development of the renewable energy sector can create many jobs. “Renewable energy had created over 550,000 jobs in 27 EU countries as of the end of 2011,” he added.
He also said that concerns about high costs of electricity generated from renewable sources were also groundless. “Wind farms are now able to compete with coal and gas stations in terms of prices of generated electricity. In Germany, Spain and Portugal, we are now approaching such situation in the solar energy sector,” he said.
He said electricity generated from renewable energy sources will only get cheaper, while the price of oil has been increasing and has already reached a level of $140 per barrel. “Renewable sources provide price stability. Costs of the construction of solar power plants have decreased by 2.5 times in five years. And the sun, the wind wont’ bill us,” he added.
As reported, Ukraine has set aside almost UAH 10 billion in 2012 to support coal mines so that they could partly gap production costs. Moreover, the 2012 national budget foresees over UAH 3 billion to support the construction of coal mining enterprises and their re-equipment.
Ukraine, EU agree on quotas on Ukrainian sugar export.
Export potential of sugar in 2012-2013 marketing year will make up about 200 tons, first deputy agrarian policy and food minister of Ukraine Ivan Bisyuk said in interview.
“The export potential of the industry is forecasted at 200 thousand tons. The CIS countries are traditional markets for Ukrainian sugar. However, today they are closed due to high rates of import duty,” Bisyuk said.
He also noted that, as part of negotiations to establish EU-Ukraine free trade area, it has been agreed to establish export quotas for Ukrainian sugar to the EU in the amount of 20 thousand tons per year.
In addition, according to Bisyuk, about 250 tons of sugar per year is exported as confectionery.
“We have the agreement with the EU on free trade confectionery, which increases the potential of such supplies to more than 300 thousand tons,” the first deputy agrarian policy and food minister said.
Ukraine’s Oschadbank starts selling treasury bills in U.S. dollars.
Since October 10 the state bank Oschadbank starts selling Ukraine’s treasury bonds ‘A’ series. It is a new type of securities mainly because the bonds are denominated in U.S. dollars as Ukrainians trust this currency, the press office of the National Bank of Ukraine announced exclusively for FOCUS News Agency.
Dollars can be deposited, but trusted banks can offer 6-7% interest per annum. Though treasury obligations yields are significantly higher – 9.2% interest per annum. Ukrainian banks are reliable, but people trust the State even more: Ukraine’s treasury bonds (T-bonds) are fully guaranteed by the state.
T-bonds can be bought and sold quickly in ‘Oshchadbank’ which has the most extensive network of branches and offices.
Government securities of ‘A’ series are issued in amount of USD 100 million and it is expected to release a series of bonds ‘B’ of the same amount. Treasury bills are presented in the documentary form, issued in bearer form, the denomination of the securities is USD 500. Income derived will be paid every 6 months (the so-called coupon period) at amount of USD 23 per security. To get a coupon income will be possible at all ‘Oshchadbank’ branches, starting from the second day after the end of the coupon period. For the citizen’s convenience income payment date is specified on the coupons of the security.
Circulation term of T-bonds is 2 years, so the T-bonds ‘A’ series will be redeemed October 8, 2014.
Chairman of the Board ‘Oshchadbank’ Sergey Podrezov is positive that T-bonds will enjoy the demand of the population. ‘This is a stable, reliable and least risky way to save your own money,’ – he said.
Ukraine-Georgia: close friendship does not break?
At parliamentary elections in Georgia, held on Ocotber 1, the opposition won the majority of seats. According to the country’s CEC, the coalition of billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili “Georgian dream” got 83 out of 150 parliamentary seats. The ruling party faction “United National Movement”, formed by the current president Mikheil Saakashvili will take only 67 seats. “Dreamers” beat out the ruling party candidates in both party lists and single-mandate constituencies.
Ivanishvili has already announced the new composition of the government, leaving several vacant ministry posts. The post of the Prime Minister he intends to take himself.
Meanwhile, Saakashvili has admitted the defeat of his party and announced that “United National Movement” goes in opposition. His presidential powers expire in 2013.According to the country’s Constitution, Saakashvili cannot run for presidency again, as he was already elected twice.
Following the situation, ForUm has asked Georgian diplomats and Ukrainian MPs and political scientists on how the regime change in Georgia will influence the relations with Ukraine.
Volodymyr Kornilov, political scientist, director of Ukrainian branch of CIS Institute:
- After the regime change in Georgia we won’t fight, that’s for sure – there is no need and no reason for this. Special relations between Ukraine and Georgia, which we had had during the rule of Yushchenko, disappeared with Yanukovych coming to power, but we cannot say that for the last three years the relations between our countries have been tragic.
As a matter of fact, the regime change won’t influence the relations significantly. Everything will be ok between our countries as long as everything is ok in the very Georgia. I am saying this because the next year will be a period of serious internal shocks for Georgia, and its relations with other world countries will depend on how the Georgian society overcomes these shocks.
Dmytro Korchynski, president of the Institute for regional problems and modern political science study:
- After the regime change in Georgia there won’t be such warm relationships as it used to be under Saakashvili. Ukrainian authorities have been pretty cold towards Georgia recently. From our side nothing will change. As for Georgia, it also won’t be warm. However, looking at the things practically, our countries do not have such close ties. There is a certain political interest to Georgia, there is a common interest to make South Caucasus Russian, but economically our countries are not very close. Thus, I believe no significant changes in relations will happen.
Vasyl Horbal, MP from the Party of Regions faction, member of the MP group on interparliamentary ties with Georgia:
- I am sure the regime change won’t influence the relations between Ukraine and Georgia. All undertaken and signed obligations agreements will be fulfilled due to long-standing good relations between our peoples.
Mykhailo Pogrebinski, independent expert, political scientist, political strategist:
- It’s too early to say how the new government will behave towards Ukraine, whether it will continue the reforms and what reforms it will be, as not all ministry positions have been appointed. However, I don’t see any grounds for relations between Ukraine and Georgia to change, unlike the relations between Georgia and Russia. We know that with Saakashvili in power Georgia had no diplomatic relations with Russia, and the problem could not be solved. From now on, though, the relations between Tbilisi and Moscow will probably improve.
Evhen Leshan, independent analyst:
- I talked to the Georgian ambassador some days ago and made conclusions that the elections would not change our relations at all. With both Yushchenko and Yanukovych in power, Ukraine has never had conflicts with Georgia.
Please note that the transport connection with Georgia has been resumed. The wheels have been set in motion. We have low cost flights Kyiv-Kutaisi, soon we will have railway route Kyiv-Tbilisi. Such relations are beneficial, thus I don’t think the new authorities will be interested in complicating them.
Olga Herasymiuk, MP from the Our Ukraine faction, member of the MP group on interparliamentary ties with Georgia:
- We’ve always had friendly relations with Georgia, thus the regime change cannot influence the change of priorities of foreign policy in no way. Moreover, the new parliament does not show any change of course. Whatever relations we have, Georgia follows the democracy principle, thus I hope political downsides will not influence our relationships. I believe we must stand above party interests and manifests.
Vitaly Kulik, director of the Center for civil society problems study:
- Ukraine and Georgia have certain ties, trade and economic agreements. Moreover, our relations do not depend on personal contacts. We have systemic relations within interstate commissions. The political and interparliamentary dialogue has been held according to the approved plans, this the character of relations will hardly change.
Probably, the Ukrainian Cabinet will feel more comfortable holding the dialogue with Ivanishvili and his government, as current Georgian President has negative background on the post-soviet space. However, the results of the parliamentary elections will not affect agreements and investment projects, agreed earlier.
Grigol Katamadze, ambassador of Georgia to Ukraine:
- If you paid attention, our relations have become model for the last two and a half years. I dare to say that Ukrainian-Georgian relations will continue to improve and develop.
Trade turnover between our countries increases annually by 40%, as well as the tourist inflow from Ukraine to Georgia. We have good possibilities for cooperation, we have plenty of unrealized projects.
Ukraine Brings Back Naval Killer Dolphins.
The Ukrainan navy has restarted special training for dolphins and other animals for military duties including attacking enemy combat swimmers and detecting mines, a military source in the Ukrainian naval port of Sevastopol told RIA Novosti on Thursday.
“Ten dolphins are now being trained for special tasks in the Ukrainian state oceanarium, and the Ukrainian military are regularly training the animals for detecting things on the seabed,” the source said.
Dolphins were trained at Sevastopol for the Soviet Navy as far back as 1973. They were trained to find military equipment such as sea mines on the seabed as well as attacking divers and even carrying explosives on their heads to plant on enemy ships.
After the breakup of the USSR and division of the Black Sea Fleet into Ukrainian and Russian fleets, the dolphin training section and its specialists were given to the Ukrainian Navy. They were then used for civilian tasks such as working with disabled children, in order to keep the unit intact.
The killer-dolphins will be trained to attack enemy combat swimmers using special knives or pistols fixed to their heads, the source said. “We are now planning training exercises for counter-combat swimmer tasks in order to defend ships in port and on raids,” he said.
Their tasks also include patrolling stretches of water and detecting items of military interest and then marking them by attaching floating buoys.
Several exercises have already been carried out this year with the dolphins in finding underwater weapons, both in the aquarium and outside it. “The mission was successfully carried out. Our dolphins found the items and attached devices to them which were fixed on their heads, after which a buoy on it was sent to the surface to mark it,” the source said.
The Ukrainian dolphin base is one of only two in the world, the other being in San Diego, California. There is no information on whether the Russian Navy has a similar unit.
Ukraine Expresses Interested to Participate in ISAF Mission in Afghanistan.
The North Atlantic Council Meeting at the level of Defense Ministers of the nations contributing to the KFOR in Kosovo and International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF) in Afghanistan was held at Brussels.
The participants have discussed current progress of the transition period, forms of cooperation of the contributing nations in Afghanistan in post-transition period, as well as the NATO Mission format after 2014.
In his welcoming speech Anders Fogh Rasmussen, NATO Secretary General, stressed the progress achieved jointly by ISAF and Afghanistan Government. He underlined the Alliance integrity while assisting the Afghanistan Government in post-transition period and after transfer of national security responsibilities.
Dmytro Salamatin, Minister of Defense of Ukraine, emphasized the importance of joint efforts in construction of “safe” Afghanistan.
“I was convinced of this while visiting Afghanistan this September. Ukraine is consistent and will continue its participation in Afghanistan operations,” Dmytro Salamatin said. “Ukraine is interested to participate in International Security Assistance Forces in Afghanistan,” he commented.
The Defense Minister thanked Lithuanian, Polish, American, and Afghan militaries with which Ukrainian units accomplish all the missions.
Nowadays, Ukraine is an active participator of planning process of a new NATO Mission in 28+6 format to take optimal political and military long-term solutions.
World Bank, Ukravtodor sign credit agreement on new road project.
World Bank Country Director for Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova Qimiao Fan and Chairman of the State Agency of Automobile Roads of Ukraine (Ukravtodor) Volodymyr Demishkan have signed a loan agreement to finance the Second Road and Safety Improvement Project (RSIP2) in Ukraine.
According to the press service of the World Bank, the World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors approved a $450 million loan for the RSIP2 on Sept. 20, 2012.
The project will improve the condition and quality of sections of the Kyiv-Kharkiv road between the cities of Lubny and Poltava and enhance road safety along several road corridors in Ukraine.
“The project will lead to the reduction of cost and time spent on moving people and goods on this key road artery of the country,” said Qimiao Fan.
According to him, it will also contribute to improved road safety on selected road corridors and decrease the number of road accidents. The project will bring significant positive social and economic benefits to local communities by creating more economic activities and jobs.
The Second Road and Safety Improvement Project will be implemented by Ukravtodor. The primary beneficiaries of the project are Ukraine’s road users and the local communities along the road. The RSIP2 is a follow-up project to the ongoing Road and Safety Improvement Project (RSIP1), which the World Bank supports through a loan of $400 million, which was approved by the World Bank Board in 2009. The implementation of the RSIP1 has been progressing well and has brought better road conditions and road safety of the Kyiv-Kharkiv road between the cities of Boryspil and Lubny.
The new project will also help Ukraine make its roads safer in the context of the United Nations Decade of Action for Road Safety. The project will apply safe road engineering measures such as intersection improvements, road markings, and pedestrian facilities.
“We look forward to the timely and successful implementation of the new road project so as to bring tangible benefits to the ordinary citizens of Ukraine quickly,” Fan said.
The project is fully consistent with the new Country Partnership Strategy for Ukraine for the period of 2012-2016. Since Ukraine joined the World Bank in 1992, commitments to the country total over $7.5 billion for 41 operations.
Every invitation to Ukrainian Fashion Week’s ready-to-wear shows has the following warning on it: “Parking is limited.”
And every year traffic jams near Mystetsky Arsenal at Mazepa Street indicate that guests ignore the warning.
Unlike fashion weeks abroad, the Ukrainian version focuses on a single location for shows. Another noticeable difference is the lack of changes to the schedule. It seems like it would be considered a crime if the opening show wouldn’t be by Lilia Poustovit and followed by Victoria Gres. At least that is what the schedule has been for years.
It’s not only the schedule that is best described as “stable,” but also the collections.
At the Summer-Spring 2013 fashion week that kicked off on Oct. 10, Poustovit, Ukrainian fashion’s long-playing “good girl,” didn’t take the risk of surprising anyone and went on with her normal cotton dresses, slacks of light fabrics and free-cut shirts.
In Poustovit collections, clothing seems to be nothing but a base for putting prints on it. Colorful prints are her specialty and she works with them nicely, developing a new palette every season and putting it on same simple-form clothing.
This time Poustovit confirmed her ethnic course, adding some charms-like jewelry to collection for the first time.
“Those charms do work, protecting you, even if you don’t believe in such things,” she said after the show.
It is unlikely that she needs those tricks to attract clients. Understandable and non-risky with her complex prints and simple shapes, Poustovit is reaching them well already. She sells her two apparels for multiple boutiques in Ukraine and abroad and designs shoes for Intertop, one of Ukraine’s largest retailers.
TV host Katya Osadchaya wearing a lobster hat.
The playing-it-safe style is common for most of UFW designers, at least for commercially successful ones. It seems to be based on a simple understanding of the target audience.
Being sold at rather high prices, designers’ clothing has a limited audience. People who can afford it mostly come from conservative fields like business and politics, and what they want is intelligible, plain-design and expensive-looking clothes.
The small exception can be made for show business people. TV host and high life reporter Katya Osadchaya often chooses Ukrainian designers’ dresses for her TV appearances, combining it with some risky accessories. At the first day of UFW, Oct. 10, she was spotted wearing a simulated lobster in her hair.
Fashion weeks are as much about guests showing off their looks as it is about designers showing off the collections. In that sense, Osadchaya’s lobster hat was a breath of fresh air, since most posh show business persons and socialites clearly prefer showing off brands, not ideas.
This year there must have been a disclaimer somewhere, warning that one won’t be allowed to the fashion week unless wearing red-sole Louboutin shoes. And perhaps another one, strictly recommending to accompany red soles with Chanel 2.55 bag. Not that classic Bottega Veneta knot clutches were finally laid to rest.
Designer Victoria Gres (fourth from left) makes last arrangement at the backstage of her show.
It’s far more refreshing to observe another category of the show’s regulars – fashion bloggers and street-style pacesetters – their number growing year-by-year. Ignoring the whole “posh look” idea, they come wearing denim shorts, colorful jackets and Converse shoes. At the fashion week’s first day, the young woman with a traditional flowery shawl wrapped around her head, carrying a watermelon bag was the photographers’ favorite treat.
Even though one watermelon and one lobster are not enough to beat up all the red soles, it seems like fresh air is coming, from guests if not from deigners.
US threatens sanctions against Ukraine over Tymoshenko case.
The US Senate has threatened to impose political sanctions on Ukraine over the jailing of former Prime Minister, Yulia Tymoshenko, urging Kiev to immediately release the opposition leader.
The Senate adopted a resolution on Saturday that stressed that the Tymoshenko trial was “politically motivated” and urged her immediate release citing her poor health condition.
The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry dismissed the resolution, saying in a statement that commenting on it would be “unreasonable”.
It further claimed the resolution had been passed in great haste just minutes before the end of the session, with “less than half a dozen acting members of the chamber” still present.
“The friends of the Tymoshenko team did everything to bring into the Ukrainian media space yet another falsified pretext for groundless arguments and discrediting of the upcoming parliamentary election. These efforts go against Ukraine’s national interests and are bound to fail,” the ministry lashed out.
In October 2011, Tymoshenko – President Viktor Yanukovich’s main political rival – was found guilty of abuse of office over a 2009 gas deal with Russia. Since then the former prime minister has been serving a seven-year sentence at a jail in the city of Kharkov.
The Senate resolution urged the State Department to recall the US Ambassador to Ukraine and suspend the embassy’s activities until the former prime minister is released.
The legislators also proposed to impose visa sanctions on those responsible for Tymoshenko’s detention – a move that would deny incumbent President Viktor Yanukovich and other top officials entry to the United States.
The resolution however is not binding and is only a recommendation.
Kiev has earlier come under harsh criticism from the US, the European Union and Russia over the way Tymoshenko was treated. European capitals have called on Kiev to commit to democratic principles and denounced the seven-year prison sentence handed to Tymoshenko as politically-motivated.
Moscow has repeatedly stressed that all the signed agreements fully correspond with both Russian and Ukrainian law.
Ukraine Defense Ministry confirms pilot’s death in jet trainer crash.
Ukraine’s Defense Ministry has confirmed that an Aero L-39 Albatros combat jet trainer crashed in Chuhuyiv, a town in Ukraine’s Kharkiv Oblast, on Sept. 22, killing the cadet who piloted it.
“It is true that an air crash has taken place, and a third-year cadet from Kharkiv Air Force University was killed,” the ministry press service told Interfax-Ukraine.
The service said the cadet had carried out 71 flights before.
According to the ministry, the cause of the crash was unclear. The ministry appointed a commission to investigate the incident.
Ukraine grounded all its L-39 jets pending the inquiry, the ministry press service said.
L-39, which was developed in communist-era Czechoslovakia, has been used as a trainer in member countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States for many years. There is a Ukrainian modification of the plane, L-39M1.
Interfax-Ukraine first learned the news of Saturday’s crash from a source in Ukraine’s General Staff.
Ukraine’s FEMEN feminist protesters are now officially based in Paris. The group’s headquarters were registered in France and will be opened on September 18. The girls plan to mark the event with a topless parade across the Muslim district of the city.
The group invited all its supporters and those who are still hesitant to join the ceremony. The festivities will include a topless parade, a chain saw assembly contest and a poisoned pie throwing competition.
The girls cal themselves “sextremists” but Ukraine’s government think they’re extremists and denied the group a registration. FEMEN’s main agenda is to fight discrimination against women. They want to draw attention to the problem by wearing slogans urging Muslim women to undress. France, which is 10% Muslim, found nothing extremist in our group, Irina Shevchenko from FEMEN told VoR.
“We have obtained the registration, which means that France’s government doesn’t mind our existence and operation in the country.”
She said that FEMEN went to France as it has a large Muslim Community. Irina recently moved to Paris fearing arrest after sawing down a cross in the center of Kiev. The girls say that their protests are a test for democracy.
“Our movement is international. Our French headquarters will attract activists from all over the world to study FEMEN strategy and tactics. We will operate in East and Central Europe, America and Brazil and plan to go worldwide.”
Naked marches can cause indignation not only among French Muslims taking into account recent unrest caused by an American –made movie mocking Prophet Muhammad. Sergey Fedorov, expert in European studies, believes that the French government will control the situation.
“If France sees such extremist actions it will quickly deal with them, leaving all their Pussy Riot support behind. I think the girls will hardly enjoy their stay in France.”
The girls have already performed a number of happenings in Europe. In Milan, they disrupted the opening ceremony of the Versace show at Milan Fashion Week. The protesters wore jeans and handwritten slogans “Fashion = Fascism” and “Model don’t go to Brothel”. In Zurich, the girls staged a protest against prostitution. They stopped traffic in the road where prostitutes usually gather, wrapped in cellophane with labels attached reading “Women aren’t merchandise”
They also “attacked” the Euro 2012 trophy Cup protesting against Ukraine hosting the event which, they think, promotes sex-tourism.
Ukraine moves to raise tariffs on imports.
Ukraine has told its trading partners it wants to raise maximum tariffs on hundreds of imported goods, a move that could unleash protectionist forces and may even pose a threat to the US$18 trillion global trade system.
In a document marked “secret” sent to members of the WTO last week and seen by Reuters, Ukraine says it intends to raise the limit on the tariffs it can legally impose on more than 350 goods. Based on figures in the proposal, Kiev’s plan would hit overall imports worth more than US$4.6 billion last year.
The document, which diplomats said they had received on Sept. 14, consists of 85 pages of annexes detailing the items affected. It says Ukraine is prepared “to enter into negotiations and consultations” with WTO members for the concessions.
There was no response to requests for comment from Ukraine officials in Geneva or Kiev. Ukraine, a relative newcomer to the WTO whose trade deficit widened by more than 50 percent last year to US$14 billion, has already threatened to block car imports and said last year it would act to improve its terms at the WTO.
The US said Ukraine’s possible decision would raise “serious concerns,” although WTO officials played down the move, which, though radical, is permissible under the agency’s rules.
Some trade experts fear the plan, which would force hundreds of trade deals to be renegotiated, could trigger increasingly protectionist policies worldwide. The four-year-old global financial and economic crisis has so far not led to a rush to protectionism, but under pressure to help their producers weather the storm, governments have pounced on “unfair” moves by their rivals. The US and Brazil were the latest to trade diplomatic blows.
Some diplomats say Ukraine’s plan to renegotiate on so many goods — cars, trucks, agricultural machinery, meat, flowers, fruit, vegetables, washing machines and even syringes — is tantamount to reopening negotiations on its membership terms.
“We don’t know what is behind Ukraine’s move,” one trade diplomat said. “Maybe the financial crisis. Maybe political reasons. Maybe industrial.”
Longstanding WTO members typically have high ceilings and set tariffs well below the maximum, giving them wriggle-room in tough times. The tariffs of newer members, many of which were forced to accept tough terms to join the WTO, are often set right at the ceiling. Some, including Ukraine, which joined in 2008, have bristled over that constraint.
Wind Farms of Ukraine to invest Hr 3 billion in projects by 2017.
The Wind Farms of Ukraine Group plans by 2017 to invest UAH 3 billion in projects to create wind farms, Wind Farms of Ukraine LLC Director General Vladyslav Yeremenko has said.
“Wind Farms of Ukraine plans to invest UAH 3 billion in the next four years,” he told reporters in Kramatorsk on September 21, 2012, saying that key investment will be injected into the construction of wind power facilities in Crimea.
Yeremenko said that the funds to realize the projects are to be raised from state-run banks, as well as Prominvestbank, Megabank, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).
He said that the buyback period will be around seven or eight years.
In addition to the construction of two wind farms in Crimea in 2013, the group is engaged in active design work in Mykolaiv and Odesa regions.As reported, Wind Farms of Ukraine has drawn up projects for the construction of the Novoazovsky wind farm (Donetsk region), the Berezansky wind farm and the Ochakivsky wind farm (the latter two based in Mykolaiv region).
At present, Novoazovsky Wind Farm LLC (Donetsk region) has commissioned wind turbines, bringing the wind plant’s generating capacity to 57.5 MW, and Ochakivsky wind farm has commissioned wind turbines with a capacity of 25 MW. Soon the assembly of five wind turbines in the Berezansky wind farm will start.
In addition, the Council of Ministers of Crimea permitted three companies from the group to draw up land utilization projects on the allocation of 107 hectares in Pervomaisky, Saksky and Leninsky districts in Crimea to build wind farms.
Stepny Wind Farm LLC will build an eponymous wind plant with a capacity of up to 100 megawatts, Saksky Wind Farm LLC will construct the Zolnynska wind power plant with a capacity of up to 12.5 megawatts (the company also plans to build the Prysyvashska wind power plant in Sovetske district with a capacity of 25 megawatts).
Kerchensky Wind Farm LLC will build the Ostaninska and Skhidna wind power plants with capacities of up to 25 and 100 megawatts respectively.
Fuhrlander 2500-100 wind turbines whose capacity is 2.5 MW each are being used in all of the projects. The assembly of the turbines is being started by Fuhrlander WindTechnology in Kramatorsk (Donetsk region).
Lviv City Council expresses dissatisfaction with Mayor Sadovy.
Lawmakers of Lviv City Council have declared operation of Lviv Mayor Andriy Sadovy unsatisfactory after his report on the operation of the executive bodies of the city council for 2011.A total of 63 lawmakers supported the decision.
After the Sadovy’s report and its long discussion, the lawmakers took a 10-minute break to decide on the report. When the session was resumed, Head of the Svoboda All-Ukrainian Association faction in Lviv City Council, Ruslan Koshulinsky, announced a declaration, which explained the decision of the lawmakers.
“Operation of the executive bodies of Lviv City Council in 2011 is an example of non-fulfillment of tasks set by the city community and an example of failures in strategic local self-government,” reads the document.
The lawmakers believe that the introduction of a new transport scheme in the city, which was accompanied by many infringements of Ukrainian law, was a failure. They also blamed Sadovy of failing to settle the problem with the city landfill and inactivity in the historic memorial protection area.
In addition, the lawmakers expressed dissatisfaction with the fact that the executive power bodies did not manage to cope with a problem of stink from the sewage system and with the city’s debt, being UAH 1 billion. The budget for 2011 was not fulfilled.