KIEV, March 21 â€“ Arseniy Yatseniuk, a close ally of pro-Western President Viktor Yushchenko, was Wednesday approved as Ukraineâ€™s new foreign minister after pro-government coalition and opposition groups had overwhelmingly backed the nomination.
Yatseniuk was backed by 426 lawmakers in 450-seat Parliament. The vote is not likely to end the standoff between the president and the prime minister over sharing of power, but it would ease immediate tensions between the two over foreign policy.
Yatseniuk, 32, is a former central banker and economy minister. He is Ukraineâ€™s first foreign minister since 1991 that does not have a specific diplomatic background.
However, Yatseniuk is strongly committed to promoting Ukraineâ€™s integration to the European Union and he also backs the countryâ€™s integration into NATO.
â€śHe is the man of the president,â€ť Vadym Karasiov, the head of the Institute for Global Strategies, a Kiev-based think tank, said. â€śHe will defend the presidentâ€™s interests.â€ť
Those were reservations over Ukraineâ€™s accession to NATO that had last year split Ukrainian parties and led to a sharp conflict between the pro-Western president and pro-Russian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych.
Yanukovych forced the resignation of Boris Tarasiuk, an architect of the countryâ€™s foreign policy, from the post of the foreign minister on Jan. 30. Yanukovych loyalists also twice refused to support the appointment of Volodymyr Ohryzko, a pro-Western diplomat, to the post.
Meanwhile, the pro-Western policy is likely to continue with the appointment of Yatseniuk.
â€śI can say only nice words about this young man,â€ť Yushchenko told the staff of the foreign ministry while introducing Yatseniuk. â€śHe represents the young generation of Ukrainian politicians.â€ť
Yushchenko said the foreign ministry should continue to work hard to build closer cooperation with NATO up to the accession to the alliance. (tl/ez)