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No progress on NATO after security meeting
Journal Staff Report

KIEV, Sept. 20 – Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych on Wednesday emerged unconvinced that Ukraine should accelerate accession to NATO following a meeting of the country’s top security body that had tried to persuade him otherwise.

The meeting was President Viktor Yushchenko’s last remaining tool to force Yanukovych to accept a pro-NATO course that had been apparently agreed between the two last month.

The development suggests that Yanukovych will probably not change his anti-NATO rhetoric on Thursday when he meets senior European Union officials in Brussels.

“There will be no sensations,” Yanukovych told reporters after the meeting of the National Security and Defense Council, a top body advising the president on strategic issues.

Yanukovych sent shockwaves during his last week’s visit to NATO headquarters when he had declared that Ukraine will postpone its accession to NATO to prevent the worsening of relations with Russia.

Yanukovych’s Regions Party, jointly with its two small leftist allies, approved an anti-NATO resolution in Parliament on Tuesday. On Wednesday, the Cabinet of Minister, also controlled by the Regions Party, had backed a similar resolution.

Yushchenko, who spoke at a press conference after the meeting, said the prime minister’s anti-NATO position was “an erroneous path” that may lead to “a destabilization.”

The split between Yushchenko and Yanukovych suggests that a serious political crisis may be looming ahead that may be triggered by controversial amendments to the constitution that had come into force on Jan. 1.

The amendments shifted many of the president’s powers, such as the ability to conduct independent economic and financial policy, to the prime minister, essentially leaving foreign and defense policy at the hands of the president.

But Yanukovych’s refusal to abide by Yushchenko’s pro-NATO push shows that the prime minister, whose party had been campaigning on pro-Russian platform, has been as also seeking to influence the foreign and defense policies.

The standoff may trigger a constitutional crisis in the country when the president and the prime minister will both be claiming the final say on issues not clearly stipulated by the constitution.

Yushchenko said the possibility of the constitutional crisis was looming and that prompt actions had been needed from main political parties to prevent the escalation.

“It is normal for all branches of power to try to clearly understand where there is the beginning and where is the end of the field to which their control extends,” Yushchenko said. “But I wouldn’t want this to lead to usurpation of power by some of the branches.” (tl/ez)




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