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Our Ukraine plans to hold separate talks
Journal Staff Report

Yushchenko’s party now seeks Ukraine’s faster integration to NATO

KIEV, June 19 – President Viktor Yushchenko’s party, Our Ukraine, on Monday decided to continue separate talks with two different political camps apparently seeking to form a coalition in which it would play a major role.

Holding talks with two pro-Western groups on the one hand, and with a moderate pro-Russian group on the other, shows Our Ukraine has been putting pressure on both camps to secure the best deal.

Our Ukraine has been holding consultations with the Regions party, a pro-Russian group, for almost a week after an ultimatum from the Socialist Party had put pro-Western coalition talks in a deadlock.

The tactics has apparently helped Our Ukraine to successfully force the Socialist Party to drop the ultimatum last week. But on Monday, Yushchenko’s party has been also seeking to secure Ukraine’s faster integration with NATO, an issue that the Socialists have so far moderately opposed.

“We are seeking [compromises] on complicated issues, like NATO and law enforcement agencies,” Roman Bezsmertniy, Our Ukraine’s chief negotiator, said. “The complexity of the issue forces us all the time to seek compromise wording.”

In the pro-Western coalition, which would muster 243 seats in 450-seat Parliament, former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko would probably get her old job back, analysts said.

Prime Minister Yuriy Yekhanurov, a leader of Our Ukraine, would probably take the job of the Parliamentary speaker, while the Socialists would probably take the job of the first deputy prime minister, said people familiar with the talks.

But Out Ukraine has been also making progress in consultations with the Regions Party, which controls 186 seats, or the largest single group in Parliament.

Former Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, the leader of the Regions, indicated Monday the party had been ready for major compromises to strike the coalition agreement with Our Ukraine.

The compromises apparently included allowing Our Ukraine, a group that controls 81 seats in Parliament, to appoint the prime minister, while the Regions would take the post of the Parliamentary speaker.

The compromise would allow Yekhanurov, a close long-time ally of Yushchenko, to keep the second most important job in the country for five years, helping to spearhead his economic reforms.

But such alliance, although good for the economy, would probably cost Yushchenko dearly at the next presidential election in 2009 as Our Ukraine voters do not support the coalition with the Regions, analysts said.

“Whatever coalition is formed, I know that both, coalition and opposition leaders must sit down with the president and talk about national priorities,” Ivan Vasiunyk, the first deputy chief of staff at the Yushchenko office, said. (tl/ez)




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