KIEV, Feb. 18 – Opposition groups led by the Regions Party rejected a plan for reconciliation in Parliament, setting the stage for prolonged political crisis in Ukraine, Parliament Speaker Arseniy Yatseniuk said Monday.
The failure to agree on the reconciliation plan between the groups may trigger a countdown for a possible dismissal of Parliament by President Viktor Yushchenko.
Yatseniuk met Yushchenko on Monday to discuss possible options, including the dismissal scenario, after the opposition groups had refused to sign the plan.
“None of the reconciliation plans was backed by the opposition groups,” Yatseniuk told Yushchenko, according to a report by the presidential press service.
Yushchenko on Monday signaled no indications on the possible dismissal option. He called on political groups to agree on the settlement within Parliament.
Parliament is not operational since the middle of January as the Regions Party, the largest single pro-Russian group, has been blocking the podium protesting over plans for Ukraine’s speedy accession to NATO.
The protest went off after Yushchenko, Yatseniuk and Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko had signed a letter asking NATO for permission to join the Membership Action Plan, a program that immediately precedes the accession to the alliance, in April.
Officials believe Ukraine could join the alliance within two years after joining the MAP.
Seeking to reach the reconciliation, Yatseniuk has drafted three different plans for a political settlement, including approval of a resolution that reflects an earlier stated position of the Regions Party maing the accession to the alliance possible only after the approval at a referendum.
But the Regions Party, known for switching its position over NATO depending on whether it’s in the government or in opposition, has refused to back any of the plans, according to Yatseniuk.
Instead, the party last week resorted to blowing balloons, which carried anti-NATO slogans, and making noise with pipes, making sessions in Parliament impossible.
This triggered speculations that the party may have had a hidden agenda and has been seeking to aggravate the political standoff simply in hopes to topple the pro-Western government.
“So, it becomes clear today that the problem doesn’t lie in the area of NATO,” Yatseniuk told Yushchenko.
Viktor Baloha, the chief of staff at the Yushchenko office, issued a special statement accusing the opposition groups of aggravating the political crisis, adding this may have “bad consequences” for the country.
“The opposition groups have been playing for too long now in the forced stand-off,” Baloha said. “Obviously, they lost connection with their voters.”
“Opinion polls clearly show that anti-NATO demands are not shared by the people who expect from Parliament work, not shows with balloons and pipes,” he said. (tl/ez)