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Pro-Western groups close to form govt
Journal Staff Report

Socialist Party, Tymoshenko meet Our Ukraine’s coalition demands

KIEV, June 20 – Three pro-Western groups on Tuesday came very close to forming the new government in Ukraine after President Viktor Yushchenko’s party had secured promises from partners ensuring the country’s fast integration into NATO.

The development opens way for Our Ukraine, the Socialist Party and a group led by former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko on Wednesday to announce the coalition mustering 243 lawmakers in 450-seat Parliament.

Tymoshenko, who controls the biggest group among coalition partners, will probably get the job of the prime minister, while Our Ukraine’s Yuriy Yekhanurov, the prime minister, will probably take the post of Parliamentary speaker.

The Socialist Party has been apparently choosing between taking the job of the first deputy prime minister or the post of the first deputy speaker of Parliament, people familiar with the situation said.

Yushchenko, who met group leaders at his residence late Tuesday, said the pro-Western coalition was “very close” to start appointing the new government, according to Yushchenko’s press service.

The breakthrough in three-month talks between the groups came after the Socialist Party late Monday agreed to support bills that would ensure Ukraine’s quick accession to NATO, a person familiar with the talks said.

The bills are required for Ukraine to join the membership action plan, or MAP, later this year, while the actual membership will only be possible after an approval at a referendum.

Yushchenko said the coalition agreement “anticipates needed reforms” and “Ukraine’s course towards the Euro-Atlantic integration,” a term that frequently describes the country’s accession to NATO.

The Tymoshenko group apparently also made concessions late Monday by agreeing to meet Our Ukraine’s demand to maintain commissions that would work out government decisions before the Cabinet votes to approve them.

Tymoshenko has been earlier rejecting this system, which had been introduced by Yekhanurov, amid fears the commissions would limit her powers, but had eventually yielded to Our Ukraine’s demands.

“We agreed to keep the commissions,” Oleksandr Turchynov, Tymoshenko’s closest ally, said.

The Socialists and Tymoshenko group met Our Ukraine’s demands after Yushchenko’s party had announced it had made progress in talks with the Regions Party, a moderate pro-Russian group, to form the government. (tl/ez)

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