An interesting interview with Viktor Yanukovych in the current "Russian Newsweek"
I've translated some portions below:
Are you for Ukraine being included into the European Union?
At the first congress of PoR in 1997 we decided that integration into Europe would be the main objective of our program. For eleven years we not only have not changed this position, but are even more convinced that Ukraine should join Europe. Being territorially in the centre of Europe, Ukraine is already a part of the European community. We have improved our social conditions, have moved our standard of living to toward European standards and principles. Polls show that more and more Ukrainians support idea of integration into the European Union.
At least half of citizens of Ukraine are against the country's introduction into NATO. Along what path do you intend to go to the European Union?
Some European countries, for example Finland and Sweden, were included into the European Union, without being members of the NATO. But they co-operate with the NATO - take active part in NATO programs. There is an analagous situation with Ukraine. We have reached a high level of co-operation with NATO, and have completed work on a number of programs. We continually take part in military training exercises, in peacekeeping and anti-terrorist operations. Our citizens recognise the authority and influence of this organisation.
In the Ukrainian government the question of creation of a European security system is being discussed. What is this system and will it be an alternative of NATO?
The time has come to improve NATO. Considering that the European Union has considerably increased its membership in recent years number to twenty seven countries, it makes sense to [re]consider the concept of formation of a collective system of security for the European Union and countries next to it. Ukraine intends to take active part in the formation of such a concept. Certainly, without Russia such a concept is impossible. Such a system is not an alternative to NATO. It could come into being, or as we consider, should come into being, as a result of the reform of NATO.
Has the fact that Ukraine sold weapons to Georgia worsened relations between Moscow and Kyiv?
We still do not have a full picture whether Ukraine sold weaponry to Georgia. But, having supported to it, Ukraine became a participant in this conflict. Viktor Yushchenko made a huge error. Any third party always should play the role of peacemaker. We consider that a policy of double standards is not capable of solving the problems of frozen conflicts. For these, new laws should be developed, and such international organisations as OSCE or the United Nations, should supervise their realisation.
The Ukrainian economy has found itself in a catastrophic situation. What is the government doing about this?
..No-one in Europe understands why Ukraine, instead of tackling the problems in the economy, is participating in international political conflicts, talking about the Holodomor. Certainly, the Holodomor was a terrible crime against Ukraine, but today, before us, there are new troubles, new threats. Why can't Ukrainian leaders unite and create a union? It is not right. Look around, everyone in the world, even the greatest countries, are uniting to fight against the crisis, it is only in Ukraine where there are endless political confrontations.
Could you and prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko form a coalition?
We are actively working on this at the moment. We consider that the threat of loss of independence, the possibility of social catastrophe should unite our politicians. We should declare a moratorium on all political confrontations. The economic crisis affects every Ukrainian family. Our duty is to protect our people from full-blown catastrophe.
Yanukovych is asked whether Ukraine will ask for help from Russia, and then:
Do you expect that help will be more likely to come from Russia, than from Europe?
For us, Russia is our biggest trading partner with a trade turnover of $30Bn a year. If Russia is sick, we are sick too, and vice-versa. During my last visit to Moscow we discussed with prime minister Putin, as leaders of political parties, how we will influence the position of governments in our countries. Putin leads his government, and I lead our opposition.
Unlike Russian, Ukrainian politicians have became more pro-European. Is it true that Ukraine has changed a lot?
Russians and Russian bureaucrats agree that democratic reforms are necessary for Russia. But in Russia they are progressing slowly. In respect of democracy, Ukraine has gone far forward, and it this has already been noticed in Europe and in a series of other countries.
Your blogger has omitted bits, because of lack of time, where Yanukovych 'pans' the oranges on several issues. They are worth reading, nevertheless.
p.s. Tomorrow Yanukovych and his party may decide whom he is to 'climb into bed' with.