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Our Ukraine, Regions may start govt talks
Journal Staff Report

Socialists press with ultimatum; Regions say ready for compromises

KIEV, June 13 – Our Ukraine, President Viktor Yushchenko’s party, may start talks with opposition Regions Party to form a coalition government after an ultimatum has left talks between three pro-Western groups in a deadlock.

Our Ukraine’s top political body met late Tuesday to add the Regions Party to the list of potential coalition partners, according to a person familiar with development.

The move effectively opens way for Our Ukraine to begin the talks with the Regions Party, which controls the biggest group in Parliament, to form the coalition government.

The developments come after Our Ukraine’s 2.5-month talks with two other groups, the Socialist Party and a group led by former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, have appeared to be in a deadlock.

The Socialist Party issued an ultimatum last week that it would back the coalition only if the party’s leader, Oleksandr Moroz, is appointed as the Parliamentary speaker. This post has been earlier reserved for Our Ukraine, negotiators said.

Roman Bezsmertniy, one of Our Ukraine leaders, said Tuesday the party would seek talks with other groups, such as the Regions Party, unless the Socialists backtrack on the ultimatum.

“We do not rule out forming a coalition of any configuration,” Besmertniy said at a press conference earlier Tuesday. “In fact, we indicated that we feel free to choose partners that agree to take a seat at a negotiation table.”

This is the first time that Our Ukraine has admitted that the coalition with the Regions Party, which has been so far campaigning on a moderately pro-Russian platform, is possible.

The Regions Party, which collected most of votes at the March 26 general election, controls 189 seats in 450-seat Parliament, while Our Ukraine, the third most popular group, controls 81 seats.

A potential coalition between Our Ukraine and the Regions Party would muster 270 seats, more than 243 seats that could be controlled by Our Ukraine, Tymoshenko Bloc and the Socialist Party.

Analysts said that despite its moderately pro-Russian platform, Ukraine’s pro-Western foreign policy is unlikely to change since Yushchenko appoints the Foreign Minister and the Defense Minister in the new government.

Meanwhile, the Regions Party, in a statement on Tuesday, indicated that it had been ready to agree to concessions in talks with potential coalition partners in order to form a strong coalition.

“There are no disagreements that cannot be overcome for the sake of the highest goal of prosperity and calm in the society,” the Regions party said.

“We are ready for effective work and to form the leadership of the government and Parliament that would immediately implement anti-crisis programs for economic development,” the party said.

Analysts said that Our Ukraine would probably seek to keep its leader, Yuriy Yekhanurov, as the prime minister in the new government, while the Regions Party would probably get other portfolios and the post of the Parliamentary speaker.

Raisa Bohatyriova, a Regions Party leader, said former Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych could be nominated either as the prime minister or the speaker of Parliament.

The comment shows the Regions party has been backtracking on its original claim that a party member should be appointed only as the prime minister. (tl/ez)

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