WEDNESDAY, JULY 18, 2018
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Yushchenko to meet EU leaders in Brussels
Journal Staff Report

KIEV, June 20 – President Viktor Yushchenko will travel to Brussels on Thursday to assure European Union leaders that Ukraine’s political crisis is over and the country has been preparing for the early Sept. 30 election.

The visit comes amid growing concerns that Ukraine may again plunge into constitutional crisis despite an earlier agreement between main political parties for holding the vote.

“The visit to Brussels is very important,” Oleksandr Chaliy, a deputy chief of staff of the presidential office, said Wednesday. “It will send a signal that all conditions have been created for the Sept. 30 vote and that there is a complete political consensus on the issue.”

But belying talk of consensus is a statement issued days ago by Parliament Speaker Oleksandr Moroz, a key member of the government coalition and a signatory to the political agreement on the election, pledging to take “all measures” to prevent the vote.

Opposition parties, loyal to the president, accused Moroz of openly trying to undermine the election deal.

The on-going political instability, which at one point last month led to a clash between forces loyal to the pro-Western president and the pro-Russian prime minister, worries the European Union, which has a common border with Ukraine.

Western diplomats praised the early election deal as a way out of the sharp political crisis, but the recent comments from Moroz have raised fears among some in Ukraine that the agreement may collapse.

In Brussels, Yushchenko is expected to meet EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and other leaders, according to Chaliy.

The comments from Moroz, who pledged to prevent the vote, switched the focus to Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, the leader of the Regions Party, the most powerful group in Parliament. The agreement would collapse should the Regions Party back Moroz, analysts said.

Yushchenko on Wednesday sought assurances from Yanukovych that his party will not seek to undermine the agreement. The two met early Wednesday, but made no comments after the meeting.

Yushchenko also met Volodymyr Shapoval, the head of the Central Election Commission, on Wednesday amid concerns that rival political groups may delay the work of the commission.

Shapoval, an ally of Yushchenko, has refused to hold a meeting of the commission amid fears that Yanukovych loyalists, who have a majority in the commission, would try to block the election.

In Brussels, Yushchenko is also expected to discuss broader cooperation between Ukraine and the European Union, including easing a visa regime between the two, according to Chaliy.

Yushchenko will also seek support from the EU in Ukraine’s bid to join the World Trade Organization by the end of the year. “Our task is to get the support from the EU,” Chaliy said. (tl/ez)

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